Thousands gathered Saturday in front of the White House for a “Love Trumps Hate Candle(less) Vigil.” An estimated 4,000 people congregated to reject the values and sentiments espoused by President-elect Donald Trump.
Rather than a protest over the results of Tuesday’s election, the crowd’s purpose was to show solidarity with communities seen as lacking representation in the Republican Party. Chants of “black lives matter,” “queer lives matter,” “my body, my choice,” “have no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “love trumps hate” rang out as marchers traveled from the White House down U Street.
Although demonstrators did not call for Trump’s removal from the presidency, anti-Trump sentiments were also expressed.
One demonstrator shared her discontent with the Electoral College and Trump’s campaign messages.
“Well, obviously I’m disheartened, sad and ashamed that a person like that is elected as president of the United States of America. What I am trying to accomplish is a direct democracy that says everyone has a voice. I am practicing my First Amendment rights to say that I disagree with everything he stands for. He does not represent me,” she said.
Another demonstrator spoke on behalf of the crowd:
“We live in a direct democracy, so we just want to make our voices heard,” she said. “We’re citizens who are concerned about what’s been happening after the election and just want to make sure we are showing we are united as a people. We feel that there has been an atmosphere of … hate and bigotry, and that’s not OK. That’s not the country we want to live in.”
Other demonstrators noted that while rallies provide a way to share public discontent, representation and advocacy do not stop there. As one marcher remarked:
“We talk about community organizing. At some point you actually have to go into the community and do the work behind the talk. … [Marches and demonstrations] definitely [disrupt] normal life. I think it brings attention to people’s unrest, but I do think there is actually action that needs to happen after that. You can cause ruckus for a couple hours, you can make people feel uncomfortable, but at a certain point you have to hit them in the pocket. You have to unravel the normality of civil dysfunction. You have to actually go and lobby and get into the legislation and see what your civil responsibilities are as a constituent. … So I think it’s a starting point for a lot of activists who are aware of what they are and what their skill set is.”