WASHINGTON, D.C. – Only days after a long election season concluded, thousands have taken to the streets in President-elect Donald Trump’s future city of residence to voice their anger and fear over America’s future.
The two days since the election have seen a wave of protests spread to virtually every major city across the country, with demonstrations along parts of the West Coast spiraling into vandalism and violence. But the scene on the streets in the nation’s capital has so far been akin to a tragedy hitting close to home.
What are normally noisy subway cars, street corners and coffee shops during the morning commute were silent on Wednesday morning, a sense of pervasive dread underscored by a murky early downpour. A passer-by remarked, “It’s like I’ve been punched in the gut.”
The city, which skews overwhelmingly liberal and which ultimately voted for Hillary Clinton with an 86-point margin over Trump, is home to thousands of college students who took to the street against Trump, hoisting banners reading such things as “not my president” and “love will Trump hate,” some hurriedly improvised from pizza boxes.
Asked to explain what Trump’s victory meant to her, Irma Garcia, a young D.C. resident, had one word: “Hatred.”
“I’m here because our president is a racist, a misogynist,” said Garcia, protesting on Thursday night in front of Trump’s new hotel mere blocks from the White House. Holding up a sign reading “Donald Trump is not my president,” Garcia said Trump’s election confirmed her fears about the state of American society.
“When I found out he was elected, I wasn’t surprised. I felt numbness,” Garcia said. “We’re more hurt than anything because we have a president who’s 70 and acting like a child, calling my cousins, my father, everyone rapists. We’re in 2016, why should we have to deal with this right now?”
“I wasn’t as surprised so much as I was heartbroken, that there are actually people out there that think the same way that he does,” said protester Naila Kenya. “To know that there are people that are thinking these things about me, about my brothers, hurts.”
With Clinton on track to become the second candidate in the last five elections to win the popular vote but fall short in the Electoral College, some protesters called on Trump for compromise.
“At the very least, I want him to acknowledge that he didn’t win everyone,” said Sarah Soliman, a student at American University in Washington, D.C. “He didn’t win the popular vote, and he’s not the universally-elected president. I just want to be heard at the very least, and I don’t care about change yet – we’ve got time, and until he acknowledges us, we’re not going to stop.”
On Wednesday, hundreds held an after-dusk candlelight vigil near the White House calling for national unity and expressing solidarity for those impacted by hate crimes and discrimination. Larger demonstrations are planned this weekend, and national activist groups are calling for protests on Inauguration Day.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner offered his congratulations to the president-elect, calling Trump’s victory “hard-fought” and echoing his victory speech call for the country to unite under a common path, according to a news release.
Trump himself has been largely silent on the public backlash surrounding his win, only taking to Twitter on Thursday to accuse the media of inciting the protesters, believing the nationwide movement to be “very unfair!” He later appeared to double back on his message, tweeting he respected the demonstrators for their “passion” and repeated his call to come together.
Alejandro Alvarez, a recent graduate of American University, is an intern for The Durango Herald. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @aletweetsnews.