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'Hate does not make America great': Protesters gather in L.A. to decry President Trump

Groups of Southern Californians protesting President Trump march towards City Hall.

Slogging down swampy streets by the hundreds, they were a melange of umbrellas, boots and ponchos in colors that contrasted against a murky sky.

Like the rain that drummed the pavement around them, they persisted — squinting through a storm as they rallied Friday in Los Angeles, protesting a leader they did not support.

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They were local business owners, immigrant rights activists, students, bus drivers, pastors, anti-fascists, singers, fathers, daughters. They advocated for black, transgender, gay and Muslim lives, affordable education, women's rights.

President Trump, they declared, did not represent their American ideals.

At Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street, demonstrators in raincoats brandished signs, the messages taking aim at the president who had been sworn in just hours before: "Deport yourself to Russia," "Hate does not make America great."

In the middle of the crowd rose a giant balloon of Trump in a suit, holding a klansman hood.

"We're setting the clock back 50 years," Angelica Aguirre said of Trump's presidency. The 22-year-old, who attends East Los Angeles College, said she was particularly worried about what she sees as Trump's assaults on the rights of immigrants and women.

"Immigrants are America's ghostwriters," read the sign in her hands.

Six blocks east, another assembled throng cheered at honking cars while sharing umbrellas and conversation — Spanish, Chinese, English, Korean.

Jim Iacono, 54, said he had braved the rain to take a stand because he felt "ripped off" after Trump won the election.

"He's just such a hateful person," Iacono said. "Even just listening to his inauguration speech — it was not conciliatory. It was mean…. He doesn't inspire people; he makes you afraid."

At Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, a group supporting immigrants who are in the country illegally huddled under a gazebo. Protesting the inauguration, they surmised, gave them the voice that went unheard during the election.

"The civil rights movement did not happen because people waited around for government to pass this bill or that bill," said Edward Pintzer, 67, of Redondo Beach. "The true power is with the people."

That sentiment echoed across the state.

In the Bay Area, an estimated 3,000 people joined hands to form a human chain across the Golden Gate Bridge. Most wore purple, a color meant to support anti-bullying, while chanting, "Love trumps hate," their cries competing with the blare of horns from passing cars and tourist buses. An outbound freighter blasted its foghorn as it passed beneath the bridge.

Not far away, San Francisco's Financial District and Oakland City Hall served as backdrops for anti-Trump demonstrations that drew large crowds.

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Many of the demonstrations were organized via social media, including those hosted by Black Lives Matter. The group's supporters rallied throughout the nation, including at Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. They then took their protest to the Bel-Air home of Steven Mnuchin, the Wall Street executive tapped to be the next Treasury secretary.

"I've always want to see those houses, and I think it meant … more today," said Antionette Saddler, 23.

In Westwood, about 250 students, union members and other protesters convened at UCLA's Dickson Plaza.

Brenda Ramirez, a junior studying sociology and Spanish, came to protest what she said were Trump's derogatory characterizations of Mexican immigrants like herself.

Her father works 14-hour days at a farm outside Fresno, Ramirez said,  for minimum wage, without complaint. He is grateful for the chance to earn money for his family and harvest food for Americans, she said.

"Trump is so wrong about immigrants," she said. "He is not my president."

Students from at least seven Los Angeles Unified high schools also showed their opposition to Trump on the day of his inauguration by walking out of class. The number from each campus ranged from about a dozen to 70.

"When students make their own choice to leave school during school hours, theoretically they are truant," Los Angeles School Police Chief Steven K. Zipperman said. "But we don't get involved with disciplining students. If they do leave the campus, we do whatever we can to get them back."

Authorities said that by Friday afternoon, there were no reports of disruptive incidents on district campuses nor in downtown Los Angeles, where most of the rallies converged at City Hall.

There, demonstrators waved flags — American, Mexican, anarchist —  held up banners and shielded homemade signs with umbrellas. Passionate but peaceful, their chants dissipated into the chatter of the rain.

"No Trump, no Pence! No wall, no fence!"

"My body, my choice!"

Some danced in the rain to keep warm.

"Coming here is for our own souls," said Maya Gasca, 55, of Whittier, who took an early lunch to join the march.

Within the energetic crowd were individual tales of fear about the incoming administration.

Sophia Bautista, 19, worries about the status of her parents, who arrived illegally but have since become citizens.

Laura Gasparac, 32, suffers from epileptic seizures and relies on the Affordable Care Act to help pay for her treatment. The video editor and event planner is convinced she would have died without the help.

Jodie Lambert, who identifies as queer, remembers driving to an Air Force recruiting office two decades ago, only to lose her nerve because of the military's stance on gays. Since then, the 39-year-old has seen a vast change in the country's policies.

"Due to Obama being such a strong leader, I felt proud to be an American," she said. "I'm scared of where this country is going."

Times staff writers Soumya Karlamangla, Sonali Kohli, Teresa Watanabe, Peter H . King, Matt Stevens, Howard Blume and Corina Knoll contributed to this report.

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UPDATES:

7:35 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the protests.

This article was originally published at 1:40 p.m.

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