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Riot, fear as protesters flood streets – Mixed signals in Trump protest tweets

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A protester against President-elect Donald Trump waves a Mexican flag during a march on I-94 on Nov 10, in Minneapolis. (AFP)
A protester against President-elect Donald Trump waves a Mexican flag during a march on I-94 on Nov 10, in Minneapolis. (AFP)

PORTLAND, Ore, Nov 11, (Agencies): From New York to Illinois to California, in red states and blue, protesters decrying Donald Trump’s election spent another night overtaking highways, smashing store windows, igniting fires and in at least one city, facing pepper spray and rubber projectiles from police trying to clear the streets.

Three days after Election Day, President Barack Obama used his last Veterans Day speech to urge Americans to learn from the example of veterans as a divided nation seeks to “forge unity” after the bitter 2016 campaign. Obama, in remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, noted that Veterans Day often comes on the heels of hard-fought campaigns that “lay bare disagreements across our nation.” “But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners,” Obama said. “It is to find strength in our common creed, to forge unity from our great diversity, to maintain that strength and unity even when it is hard.” He added that now that the election is over, “as we search for ways to come together, to reconnect with one another and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics, some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day.”

Tuesday’s election of Republican Donald Trump led to protests across the country. Obama noted that the US military is the country’s most diverse institution, comprised of immigrants and nativeborn service members representing all religions and no religion. He says they are all “forged into common service.” The demonstrations stretched into a third straight night Thursday and came to a head in Portland, Oregon, where thousands of marchers chanted, “We reject the president-elect!” while some lit firecrackers, sparked small blazes and used rocks and baseball bats to break the glass of businesses and vehicles parked at dealerships.

Officers began pushing back against the crowd that threw glass bottles and a trash can, making 26 arrests and using flash-bang devices and pepper spray to force people to disperse. The protest’s organizer on Friday decried the vandalism and said the group planned to help clean up. In Los Angeles, protests were mostly peaceful, but 185 people were arrested, mostly for blocking streets, Officer Norma Eisenman said. An officer was injured near police headquarters, leading to one arrest, but Eisenman had no details about the circumstances or the injury.

The officer was released after treatment. The persisting protests led Trump himself to fire back, tweeting: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” His supporters also took to social media to accuse protesters of sour grapes and refusing to respect the democratic process, though there were no significant counterprotests. In Portland, police termed the protest a riot after some 4,000 people surged into the downtown area. After giving several orders to leave, officers fired rubber baton rounds. It was not clear if anyone was hurt. In Denver, protesters made their way onto Interstate 25, stopping traffic for about a half-hour. They also briefly shut down highways in Minneapolis and Los Angeles. In downtown San Francisco, high school students called out “not my president” as they marched, holding signs urging a Trump eviction.

They waved rainbow banners and Mexican flags, as bystanders in the heavily Democratic city gave them high-fives. “As a white, queer person, we need unity with people of color, we need to stand up,” said Claire Bye, a 15-yearold sophomore at Academy High School. “I’m fighting for my rights as an LGBTQ person. I’m fighting for the rights of brown people, black people, Muslim people.” Nearby in Oakland, a group got into some shoving matches with police and 11 people were arrested. Protesters lit street fires, smashed windows and sprayed graffiti on at least seven businesses. In New York City and Chicago, large groups gathered outside Trump Tower. In New York, they chanted angry slogans and waved banners bearing anti-Trump messages.

Police still stood guard Friday on Fifth Avenue. “You got everything straight up and down the line,” demonstrator David Thomas said. “You got climate change, you got the Iran deal. You got gay rights, you got mass deportations. Just everything, straight up and down the line, the guy is wrong on every issue.” In Philadelphia, protesters near City Hall held signs saying, “Not Our President,” “Trans Against Trump” and “Make America Safe For All.” Officers on bikes blocked traffic for a march that spanned four street lanes and drew parents with children in strollers. Jeanine Feito, 23, held a sign reading, “Not 1 more deportation.” The Temple University student said she acknowledges Trump as presidentelect but does not accept it. “I’m Cuban-American. My parents are immigrants, and I’m also a woman. These are things Trump doesn’t stand for,” Feito said. “He’s bullied us, discriminated against us, is racist and encourages violence. I think it’s important we stand together and fight against this.” About 500 people turned out at a protest in Louisville, Kentucky, while hundreds in Baltimore marched to the stadium where the Ravens were playing a football game.

Trump denounced Americans who protested against his election and hours later praised them on Friday, underscoring contradictions that have raised questions about his leadership style. “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!” Trump tweeted early on Friday. It was a sharp shift in tone from his tweet hours earlier dismissing the demonstrators in eight cities as “professional protesters, incited by the media.”

The contradictory tweets were further evidence of Trump’s mixed messages since he announced his candidacy 17 months ago. After Clinton conceded defeat early on Wednesday, he took a far more conciliatory tone than he had often displayed during his campaign and promised to be a president for all Americans. Team Trump unveiled a transition website — www.greatagain.gov — that highlights the colossal human resources challenge facing the incoming administration under the headline “Help wanted: 4,000 presidential appointees.” News organizations had tried for weeks to coordinate a pool of journalists to travel with Trump immediately after Election Day if he won. The Associated Press is among those reaching out to Trump advisers about press access.

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