NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST) – Chanting “Not my president” and “love trumps hate,” thousands of demonstrators took the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday (Nov 12) to protest against President-elect Donald Trump, who they say threatens their civil and human rights.
The biggest rallies were in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, where organisers said they wanted to build on the momentum after several nights of protests triggered by the real-estate mogul’s surprise win in Tuesday’s presidential election.
In New York, several thousand protesters marched peacefully up Fifth Avenue past its glitzy store fronts, some already bearing Christmas decorations, before filling the streets at the foot of Trump Tower, the president-elect’s skyscraper home.
“We’re horrified the country has elected an incredibly unqualified, misogynist, racist on a platform that was just totally hateful,” said Mary Florin-McBride, 62, a retired banker from New York who held a sign reading, “No Fascism in America.”
There were also demonstrations in Chicago and Los Angeles, where several thousand protesters gathered beneath MacArthur Park’s palm trees holding placards including “Dump Trump” and“Minorities Matter,” before marching toward downtown.
Some of the demonstrators waved American, Mexican and rainbow flags. Holding a “Keep Love Legal” sign, 25-year-old gay Los Angeles resident Alex Seedman called Trump a fascist and feared he would repeal marriage equality.
Evelyne Werzola, 46, an immigrant from South Africa, said she had seen what a police state could do.
“I’ve seen people oppressed. And this is like a heartbreak of the American dream for me,” Werzola said. “So I’m fighting to keep what America has stood for alive.”
PROTESTS LARGELY PEACEFUL
Since Trump’s victory, demonstrators in several cities have decried the Republican’s campaign promises to restrict immigration and register Muslims, as well as allegations that the former reality-TV star sexually abused women.
The demonstrations so far have been largely peaceful, although there were small incidents in Portland and Indianapolis.
In Portland, protesters smashed store windows, sprayed graffiti and damaged cars late on Friday as they clashed with police who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
Dozens of protesters have been arrested and a handful of police injured.
Raising fears of violence around the rallies, one protester in Portland suffered non-life threatening injuries when he was shot early on Saturday as he took part in a march across the Morrison Bridge by a young gunman who fled the scene.
Portland police said later that the suspect’s car was spotted, a gun was impounded and four people detained. The vehicle’s occupants are believed to be criminal gang associates, the police department said in a statement.
Portland has been home to some of the country’s most virulent anti-Trump protests, with residents taking to the street as early as Tuesday night, even before the results of the presidential election were announced.
After the fourth straight night of demonstrations in response to Trump’s unexpected presidential win, city and police officials there appeared harried and frustrated. At a news conference Saturday afternoon, they told protesters to “stay home.”
Mayor Charlie Hales said Portland has experienced “great unrest” since Tuesday night. While he shared the frustration over the election of Trump, he said that changing the outcome “doesn’t involve signs anymore.”
Hales encouraged residents who oppose Trump to get involved with organisations that will work to thwart controversial promises that the Republican had made on the campaign trail.
“It is not the work of four days. That is the work of four years,” Hales said. “Going to the streets for another night is not going to keep Donald Trump from taking office.”
Over in Indianapolis, demonstrators threw rocks at police, leaving two officers injured. Seven protesters were arrested, the AP news agency reported.
The demonstrations since the election have been impromptu affairs, quickly organised by young Americans with a diverse array of backgrounds and agendas.
Protesters were at their most numerous and intense in the rallies immediately following the election before getting smaller in scale. Saturday’s protests, however, were expected to be bigger due to the weekend.
As activists look to the next four years with Trump in the White House and his party controlling both houses of Congress, some are preparing for what they hope will be the nation’s most enduring demonstrations since the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trump initially denounced the protests and said they were“incited” by the media, but reversed course on Friday and praised the demonstrators’ "passion for our great country.” “We will all come together and be proud!” Trump said on Twitter.
Many voters were shocked by the result, after opinion polls failed to predict a win for Trump.
Some 60.3 million people voted for Trump, fewer than the 60.8 million who cast ballots for Clinton. But Trump’s strong showing in swing states, including Michigan, meant he triumphed in the Electoral College that ultimately picks the president.
The president-elect’s biggest support base was the broad middle of the country, from the Heartland through the Rust Belt, with voters in states that had long supported Democrats choosing Trump after he promised to end corruption in Washington DC, and bring back jobs by renegotiating international trade deals.