Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Politics

Anti-Trump protesters march through downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Christina Altieri, 15, and her grandmother, Donna Vollmer, 65, ate sandwiches and admired the scenery Sunday evening at Demens Landing.

Then they broke out poster board and paint to make signs for an anti-Donald Trump march through downtown St. Petersburg that police said drew 800 to 1,000 protesters.

Five days after Trump's stunning election over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the protesters carried a message about the president-elect: Trump should not bully minority groups as they believe he threatened to during the campaign.

Christina said she was bullied by a boy at Northeast High School the day after the election.

"He called me a liberal Mexican dyke," said Christina, who is biracial and gay, but not Mexican. She and her grandmother said they believe Trump's campaign empowered racists.

The marchers chanted slogans like "Dump Trump'' and "Not my president'' as they made their way through downtown to City Hall. No one was arrested, St. Petersburg police said.

The protesters the Tampa Bay Times spoke to all said they voted. None said they were expecting that such a rally will overturn the election.

But they said they will voice their opposition to any policy they find discriminatory.

"I'll do this for all four years if I have to," said Wendell Wilson, 59, who is African-American. "We will not be dehumanized."

Signs carried by protesters spoke out against deporting millions of immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country.

Across the United States, people have marched and rallied against Trump in cities such as Miami, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, as well as smaller ones, such as Worcester, Mass., and Iowa City, Iowa.

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report that counted about 200 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation nationwide as of Friday. These range from anti-black to anti-woman to anti-LGBT incidents.

In his victory speech, Trump pledged to be the president for all Americans. In an interview Sunday night on 60 Minutes, he demanded that any of his supporters who are harassing people or destroying property "stop it."

But Sarah Beth Vaughn, 36, of Largo, a biracial mother of two, said during the protest that she is afraid for women.

"I'm afraid for all minorities,'' she said. "I'm afraid for my mother. I'm afraid for my daughters."

Earl Waters, a 67-year-old married gay man, laughed about Trump supporters who think protesters are overreacting. It's easy to minimize discrimination, he said, when you are not the one whose civil liberties are being threatened.

Karl Wall, a 59-year-old white man who is married to an African-American woman with whom he has two daughters, also scoffed at the notion by some Trump supporters that the president-elect is a victim of a campaign by the Democrats to falsely paint his beliefs as racist.

"I judge him by his own words," he said.

Wall said there is a reason why David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, said the election was "one of the most exciting nights of my life.''

A second protest march organized by the LGBT community started at 10 p.m. on Central Avenue.

Marchers filled one lane of an entire block. At Eighth Street and Central Avenue, they encountered four men holding a Trump-Pence sign and a Confederate battle flag. The crowd chanted, "Love trumps hate.''

Outside the Acropolis Greek Taverna, staff and diners cheered them on.

Just before the protesters were set to begin their walk from Demens Landing to City Hall, an older man on a bike rode past the crowd and yelled, "Don't you have anything better to do?"

To loud applause, one protester yelled back, "Nothing is more important than civil liberties."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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