#NotMyPresident protesters march in Grand Rapids

Protesters express feeling of solidarity with those targeted by campaign rhetoric

#NotMyPresident, protest, Grand Rapids, Donald Trump
#NotMyPresident protesters at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids on Nov. 10, 2016.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of people gathered at Rosa Parks Circle Thursday and then marched through downtown Grand Rapids to protest Donald Trump’s election to the White House.

“Not my president! Not my president!” the loud but peaceful crowd chanted.

They were also heard chanting, “Donald Trump, go away, sexist, racist, anti-gay,” and, “Love trumps hate.” Many held signs with messages like “NOT MY PRESIDENT” and “DON’T TRUMP AMERICA.”

“We still have our voice and we still have our rights,” one speaker told the crowd.

With the protest, Grand Rapids joined several cities around the country where anti-Trump demonstrations have been held.

Trump himself responded to those protests on Twitter Thursday night, writing, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

People started to congregate around 5 p.m. By around 6:10 p.m., Rosa Parks Circle was packed.

“I came out here because Donald Trump is a deplorable man who stands for just horrible, horrible things. And the American people should not stand or want someone like him to portray his ideals as what the American people stands for,” one protester told 24 Hour News 8. “I’m here to defend my rights as a woman. He should not have the right to say what I should do with my body, so my body, my choice. … And I’m here to fight to the bitter, bitter end.”

When asked how the country could find unity, the protester responded, “We just have to come together, do not let hate divide.”

By around 6:20 p.m., protesters started marching down Monroe Center. Shortly before 6:40 p.m., the crowd had move to the intersection of Fulton Street and Commerce Avenue, blocking traffic downtown.

Grand Rapids police officers blocked off streets so protesters of all ages could safely march for around 90 minutes.

“I’m here to stand in solidarity. I want to show people that are scared, concerned, legitimately fearful, they’re not alone. We’re here with them,” another demonstrator told 24 Hour News 8 as the crowd marched. “They just watched half their country vote for a man who has horrible rhetoric toward them.”

Protesters returned to Rosa Parks Circle before 8 p.m.

“Fight back,” they chanted. “Rise up.”

Many of the protestors explained they were motivated by seeing others scared about the country’s future.

“It’s scary. It’s terrifying to a lot of individuals and I want to show people that we can do something. We can make a change, make a difference. We can be a voice to those who are scared [and] to those who don’t have a voice for themselves,” demonstrator Ivan Bernardino told 24 Hour News 8.

Police were on the scene with the flashing lights on their cruisers activated, but they were not interfering. The crowd remained peaceful.

As the protest wrapped up shortly after 8 p.m., organizers urged protesters to be peaceful and not destructive.

The #NotMyPresident protest was planned by a Grand Valley State University student who said she hoped it would represent the start of a “revolution” that would in turn prevent Trump from taking office.

GVSU Political Science Professor Erika King told 24 Hour News 8 protests will not change the outcome of the election. In America, our system doesn’t provide a route for the public to recall a president.

–24 Hour News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.