Resisting calls by President Obama to accept Donald Trump’s victory, tens of thousands of protesters — some too young to vote — took to the streets in cities across the country to protest that Trump “is not my president.’’
During a second night of demonstrations, a protest in Portland, Ore., was transformed into what police called a “riot.” Police said a small number of “anarchists” in a crowd of 4,000 smashed cars with baseball bats, threw rocks and Molotov cocktails and spray-painted graffiti. There were 26 people arrested.
Overnight, protests were popping up almost spontaneously in other cities around the country. Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis; Madison, Wis.; and Milwaukee joined in protests that had begun Wednesday in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and other larger cities.
Trump addressed the protests in his usual fashion — over Twitter. On Thursday night, he decried them as “professional protesters, incited by the media.” But by Friday, as protests spread, he issued a conciliatory message, tweeting at 6.14 am.: “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!’’
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
Trump himself had urged a “march on Washington” in protest of President Obama’s re-election in 2012.
We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
More demonstrations are planned in the coming days, with some organizers saying they were saving their energy for the weekend.
In Oakland on Wednesday, police reported that they extinguished at least 40 fires and that protesters had thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and vandalized police cars.
“Time to riot,’’ read a hand-scrawled poster carried by one woman.
Due to extensive criminal and dangerous behavior, protest is now considered a riot. Crowd has been advised.— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) November 11, 2016
Rudolph W. Giuliani, former New York mayor and advisor to the Trump campaign, also denounced the student movement. “The reality is they are a bunch of spoiled crybabies,’’ he said Thursday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” He added that campuses are getting more conservative. “If you’re looking at the real left-wing loonies on the campus, it’s the professors, not the students.”
So far the protest movement — barely 48 hours old — appears to lack strategy and coordination. But some activists are focusing on the electoral college, which is due to meet Dec. 19 to formally vote Trump into office. Political scientists say electors have in the past switched their votes, but such occurrences are rare and have not altered the election outcome.
Clinton appears on track to win the popular vote — as of last count she was 388,000 votes ahead — the fourth time in U.S. history that the largest vote-gatherer has failed to get the necessary electoral votes. The last time was 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George W. Bush.
In the past, about 99% of electors have voted for the candidate to whom they are pledges, but defections do happen and Democratic activists promise to work on those Republican electors who have expressed anti-Trump sentiments.
A petition on Change.org that started Thursday morning received more than 2 million signers in less than 24 hours.
The potential challenge to the electoral college does not appear to have the support of Clinton, who conceded defeat and, like Obama, has urged the American public to accept Trump. In fact, during the campaign, Clinton blasted Trump’s threats not to respect the outcome of the election.
Still, the nascent anti-Trump movement among young people threatens to throw another wrench into a painful and prolonged election process that many people want to have behind them.
“The passive side of this generation needs to step up to the plate and show that we have not surrendered,” said Ariana Shirzay, a 20-year-old graphic design student who is organizing protests in New York in coming days. She says that her generation was lured into complacency about America’s liberal values.
“We basically grew up with liberal America and transcended into adulthood under Obama,’’ Shirzay said.
At Pratt Institute, Shirzay said, her classmates, who had assumed that Democrat Hillary Clinton would win, watched the election results in tears, the shock comparable to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — at least for those old enough to remember.
High school students around the country walked out of classes Wednesday and Thursday to show their support for the anti-Trump movement. Most protesters were young.
“It’s important to me as a 14-year-old — seeing people like this, united. [It] makes me feel like I’m not the only one here,’’ said middle schooler Yesena Gomez, who was one of the speakers at a rally in Seattle.
“When I walked into school Wednesday morning, my teachers were crying. Students were sobbing, fearing for their family and themselves and friends. We held each other up. And I think we all felt like we wanted to feel heard because most of us are never heard by the government or the world,’’ said Chloe Li, 15, who goes to a high school with many immigrant`
Elsewhere, protesters targeted Trump-branded buildings — the newly opened hotel in Washington, D.C., near the White House, Trump Tower in Chicago. A Trump effigy was burned in Los Angeles, where protesters on Wednesday had also blocked the 101 Freeway and spray-painted anti-Trump graffiti on vehicles and buildings.
“White Supremacy. Misogyny Is Not My America,” “No More Small Men With Big Mouths,’’ read the slogans — along with what have become the hashtag of the protest movement, #notourpresident and #notmypresident.
The largest protest Wednesday appeared to be in front of New York’s 58-story Trump Tower, where Trump lives in a penthouse condominium. Two separate marches through Manhattan converged in front of the building, forming a crowd that some reporters estimated at 10,000. The night was illuminated by hundreds of iPhones taking selfies of protesters gesturing with their middle fingers toward the Trump building.
New York City police said Thursday that there were 65 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest.
The protests appear to be less about supporting Clinton than opposing Trump. Many young voters were unenthusiastic about Clinton, failing to lend her campaign the energy they put behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — or for those old enough, behind Barack Obama in 2008.
Derek Muller, who teaches election law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, said that in recent months his students had been more mobilized by the California proposition on marijuana legalization than they were by the presidential election.
“There are things that get voters excited and things that don’t. For young people, it was marijuana legalization. Barack Obama mobilized young people. Bernie Sanders mobilized young people,’’ Muller said. He believes that the protests, while still gathering momentum, will probably fizzle out in a few weeks as Trump’s inauguration becomes reality.
“We have seen in the past these amazing nearly spontaneous movements … that burned brightly for a brief period of time and then just went away,’’ Muller said.
“Their chances are basically zero…. You would need a lot of coordinated action to get that many electors to change their mind,’’ he said. “It’s very hard now, given that Trump has won.’’
Special correspondents Vera Haller and Rick Anderson contributed reporting from New York and Seattle, respectively. Times staff writer James Queally contributed from Los Angeles.
6:35 a.m. Nov. 11: This article was updated with additional information about the protests in Portland, Ore., and a statement on Twitter from Donald Trump.
10:35 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the riot in Portland.
9:12 p.m.: This article was updated with details from Thursday night’s anti-Trump protest in Portland, and a 2012 tweet from Donald Trump.
7:30 p.m.: This article was updated with a tweet from Donald Trump.
6:15 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest number of signatories to the change.org petition.
This article was originally published at 5:55 p.m.