Donald Trump’s unexpected election win ignited protests that continued through the day after the election and then into the night – with thousands of demonstrators shutting down major streets and surrounding the real estate mogul’s buildings in American cities.
As US voters and international leaders began to come to terms with a Republican White House led by the former reality television star, anti-Trump activists on Wednesday launched impromptu protests criticizing the racism, sexism and xenophobia that they say the president-elect has made mainstream.
The demonstrations in cities including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Philadelphia and Seattle – swelled and drew large police responses after Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college and presidential race despite apparently winning the popular vote.
As night fell in midtown Manhattan, activists took over Sixth Avenue and marched by Trump Tower, carrying signs that read “Not my president”, “She got more votes” and “Hands off my p****”, a reference to a leaked recording where Trump bragged that he could sexually assault women because of his fame. Four arrests were made outside Trump International Towers on Central Park West.
Protesters who had marched all the way from Union Square – some 35 blocks downtown – continued past Trump Tower, with a comparatively smaller crowd still numbering in the thousands congregating in front of the president-elect’s building.
“F*** your tower! F*** your wall!” the crowd chanted at Trump Tower’s brass-escutcheoned facade, as scores of NYPD officers manned hastily erected barricades, behind which stood eight department of sanitation trucks filled with dirt.
Nina, an actor living in Manhattan, told the Guardian that the protest felt less like a call-to-arms than a vigil for the promise of America.
“I’m distraught at the decision,” said Nina, who declined to share her surname for professional reasons. “He’s a horrible, horrible man, not the leader of the America I live in. Or the America I thought I lived in.”
Thousands also took to the streets on Wednesday evening in Chicago, a Democratic city that overwhelmingly supported Clinton according to initial polls.
Gathering for what activists called an “emergency Trump protest”, demonstrators virtually shut down the city during rush hour traffic as they shouted: “Trump is not my president.”
“I’m incredibly upset. I’m angry,” said Parker Smith as she held a sign stating “My Body, My Choice” outside the president-elect’s Chicago hotel tower. “This has been just a lot to deal with and I’m very worried for the next four years.”
While Chicago has gained international attention for these kinds of demonstrations in recent years – tied to the Black Lives Matter movement against police violence – Wednesday’s protests demonstration drew a diverse group of voters united in their anger at Trump.
Protesters stood their ground for hours outside the luxury building, chanting about black lives, LGBT rights and women’s health.
Chicago, Illinois, U.S. “This is the America I identify with,” said protester Nicole Endenova, a young woman of color, as she stared at the crowds.
Some protesters waved a Mexican flag outside the tower while screaming “F*** your wall”, referring to Trump’s controversial plan for a border barrier.
As helicopters followed the march from above, while police shielded Trump Tower, some protesters shouted, “We want a president, not a f****** racist!”
Several larger demonstrations throughout the day were led by high school and college students, including a massive walkout at a high school in Berkeley, California.
Protests first launched early on Wednesday morning on the west coast after Trump told his supporters in New York City that Clinton had called him to concede.
“People are f****** bummed. People are disgusted,” said Eddie Gutierrez, 33, who joined late-night protests in Oakland, California. “They’ve lost faith in the f****** system.”
Protests also launched in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oregon and other states in regions throughout the US.
By evening on the west coast large rallies began to emerge in Seattle and Oakland, organized under the hashtag #NotMyPresident.
In Seattle, city councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a socialist politician and avid Bernie Sanders supporter during the presidential primaries, told a crowd of activists on Wednesday night that people should plan to disrupt Trump’s inauguration in January.
“We are going to shut it down,” she said.