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Thousands of peaceful, emotional anti-Trump protesters march through L.A.

Thousands of peaceful, emotional anti-Trump protesters march through L.A.
Protesters march along 3rd Street in downtown Los Angeles. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

They came by the thousands — women, immigrants, members of the gay community and people of different races and ages — to march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles in protest against President-elect Donald Trump.

Among the crowd of 8,000 was Kim White, 52, of Highland Park, fighting against misogyny. Noha Ayoub, 19, of Palos Verdes, fighting against racism. Maggie Flores, 28, of Westlake, fighting against deportation.

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Saturday morning's march was one of the largest demonstrations nationwide. It marked the fifth day of protests since the presidential election — a rare outpouring of public frustration over the results of the voting, reflecting deep fears about what Trump will do in office.

Demonstrators across the country have blocked highways, and students have marched out of classes. In Los Angeles, hundreds have been arrested in clashes with police during nighttime protests, prompting authorities to beef up their presence and organizers to urge respect and civil obedience.

On Saturday, the march was peaceful and emotional, a sharp contrast to the previous night's unrest. For many, the journey from MacArthur Park to the federal building downtown was a bright moment of unity in a dark week filled with shock, anger and uncertainty.

"This is hope I see marching down our streets," said Graciela Zavala as she watched the masses pass by the restaurant where she works on Wilshire Boulevard. "This is proof we can come together and do something about this injustice."

Protesters banged on drums, shouted through megaphones and used whistles to make noise as motorists honked their horns in support. They marched with their children, their parents and their pets. They carried flags, banners and signs, some reading: "Make America Safe Again" and "Bump Trump." They chanted, over and over: "Not my president."

On Saturday night, a smaller march of about 100 people that began at L.A. City Hall had a similar vibe, and the Los Angeles Police Department said it was tracking another group of about 200 gathering again at MacArthur Park. Some were seen being detained downtown on suspicion of vandalism, including one seen spray painting "my body, my choice" in the 3rd Street tunnel.

The marches underscored the likelihood that California will be a fierce adversary if Trump follows through on his campaign promises to deport thousands of immigrants and build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

More than two decades ago, state voters approved hard-line restrictions against giving public assistance to immigrants living here illegally. That sparked a political backlash, which along with demographic shifts — Latinos now outnumber whites in California — has made the state one of the most hospitable for immigrants without legal status.

Many of the demonstrators Saturday said that Trump's rhetoric amounts to racism, and they vowed to fight his policies.

Maria Gudalupe Martinez drove from Ontario to take part in the daytime demonstration.

She threw on a long, ruffled folklorico skirt, a giant sombrero with flowers and climbed on top of a bus bench to wave two flags: one representing America and one Mexico. She shouted, "Viva Mexico! Viva America! No Trump!"

Each time the crowd caught sight of her, they roared and raised their fists in support.

"I'm out here for my countrymen, for all Americans," said Martinez, 56. "We're all connected and, instead of making things worse, instead of going back in time, we should help each other."

Many others like her joined in to defend immigrants against the threat of deportation they now face under a Trump administration.

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Jason Ramirez-Cabral, 24, came to the rally at 8:15 a.m., straight from his job as a night worker on the docks in San Pedro. He had paint in is tote bag, with plans to color his face with a peace sign.

"I was sad the night it happened," the Fontana resident said about Trump's election. "Now I'm angry."

Some of his family members, he said, were here illegally.

"I don't know what the future holds," he said.

Beatriz Devara, a teacher from Palmdale, marched while thinking of her 11-year-old granddaughter who lives in Oregon. She said the girl's classmates have begun to worry about her, asking if she's going to be deported.

"She's third-generation," Devara said.

Others, like Sama Shah, 19, a Pakistani American, joined the protest out of concern over intolerance and hate. The USC student said she and her friends noticed in the news in recent days that people of color were being harassed and discriminated against.

"We can't stand for that kind of hatred," Shah said. "We must stand up for our Mexican, black, Muslim and gay brothers and sisters. For all women too."

Along the 2.5-mile route, some women made bold statements against the president-elect, expressing concerns about sexual harassment, workplace discrimination and a potential violation of their health rights. They wore "Nasty Woman" T-shirts and carried signs that referred to their vaginas and their right to not be grabbed.

Kellie Holm, a behavioral therapist from Van Nuys, took it further — she and two friends removed their shirts and bras. They covered their nipples with red hearts and marched down the street holding hands.

"This is my body, and he threatens that," said Holm, 26. "We are going to have a president that will make rape culture acceptable."

Standing outside the financial district, Carissa Mylin and a group of others lent their support from a distance, holding one hand over their hearts and other in the air, making a peace sign.

An interior designer from Oregon, Mylin, 34, was in town for a conference. As she looked at the hundreds of people marching before her, she wiped away tears.

"It's painful to see what we've created," she said. "The United States is a melting pot, yet this many people don't feel like they have a place here."

During the trek to the federal building, police in riot gear stood by, keeping watch. Many motorists got trapped in the chaos. Some locked their doors, rolled up their windows and ignored the protesters. Others got out of their cars and cheered them on.

Gaurav Shenoy, 27, of Sunnyvale didn't mind being stuck in traffic.

"As long as it's for democracy," he said.

The USC alumnus, who had been headed to the campus before being blocked by the rally, said he didn't like the divisive campaign Trump had run.

But now that he is the the president-elect, Shenoy said, he hopes Trump will do "something to unite the country."

Kristy Lovich, 34, of Pasadena came to the rally looking beyond the next four years.

The artist and student organized 94 families to attend the march. They brought their children in strollers, wagons and carts. They carried water, first-aid kits and diapers.

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Many times demonstrations don't take kids into account, Lovich said.

"But they're the ones that are going to inherit all the political chaos," she said. "And all the consequences of what's happening right now."

Times staff writers Alene Tchekmedyian and Howard Blume contributed to this report.

UPDATES:

10:45 p.m. This article was updated with information about two demonstrations Saturday night.

This article was originally published at 6:40 p.m.

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