Like marchers in other cities, hundreds of Miamians unhappy with the election of President Donald Trump took to the streets Friday, bringing traffic to a halt in the city’s central business district and on a surrounding highway.
But unlike violent protests earlier in the day in Washington, D.C., where windows were broken, cars were set on fire and more than 200 people were arrested, South Florida’s demonstrators kept the peace.
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They marched from the entrance of Bayfront Park, west. Then south past the Dupont Plaza circle and over the Miami River. They headed west on Southeast Seventh Street until reaching a ramp that they took to I-95.
Each time marchers turned down a street, Miami police raced ahead blocking it off from traffic. Onlookers gazed at the growing crowd, which reached about 400 people according to police, from the balconies of towering condominiums. Drivers stuck in traffic, for the most part, took it in stride.
With the highway closed, some in the exuberant crowd sat down on one of the busiest highways in the country. Others rode bikes and skateboarded. Some pushed children in strollers. Others led dogs on leashes.
No one was arrested.
David Garcia, who drove up from Key Largo, said he found the protest uplifting.
“It might look like we’re making a fuss, or as if we’re wasting a Friday night. But this is the most unity I’ve felt in a while. People are hugging each other and accepting the hard bitter truth that Donald Trump is president.”
Others said they came because they felt powerless and disenfranchised by Trump’s victory.
Harley Delcogliano, 20, of Miami, carried a handmade poster that said “Obama treated me right.” She said she voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, then Hillary Clinton in the general election and was “devastated” when Trump won.
Another woman who chose not to give her name wore a T-shirt with block letters that had an expletive before Trump’s name.
“As a Chicano, a woman of color and a woman who loves women, I think of Trump as a threat,” she said. “He’s a threat to everyone, even if you don’t feel that way.”
South Miami Vice Mayor Bob Welsh was jamming to the Beatles’ Back in the USSR while holding a sign that said “Putin won it.”
“Put it this way. I’m just praying that the next 1,300 pass by very, very quickly.”
The crowd trickled into downtown Miami at about 6 p.m. Some wore costumes. Others brought dogs on leashes. Chants of “The people united, will never be defeated,” and “No Trump, no KKK, racists, fascists go away” filled the streets.
A similar protest in November after Trump won the election was much larger, drawing about 3,000 people.
Friday’s protest was one of many that sprouted in major cities across the country after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president. They began Thursday night in Manhattan, where thousands of people, led by filmmaker Michael Moore and actors Robert De Niro, Cher and Alec Baldwin, gathered in a peaceful demonstration against the new administration.
In San Francisco on Friday, hundreds formed a human chain holding hands against the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge. Philadelphians also marched peacefully.
But protests in Washington D.C. before and during Friday’s inauguration were more intense, with windows being broken, cars burned, people arrested and police using pepper spray and tear gas only a couple of blocks away from the inaugural parade.
The actions in Washington prompted members of the Anti Trump Action Committee, which organized Friday’s protest in Miami, to urge marchers to obey the law. Leader James M. Fabiano said on the group’s Facebook page that he didn’t like what he was seeing in the nation’s capitol.
“We lose our message if we destroy property and riot. Peaceful assembly to protest and resist. No flag [Emoji of fire] burning. Let’s show the world again how the 305 does it like last time,” he wrote.
That was Gisela Bompezzi’s goal Friday night when she peeked out of the window of her downtown apartment and saw the crowd. Then she grabbed her three children and joined the march. Bompezzi, who grew up around political protests in Argentina, pushed her 1-year-old in a stroller.
“It’s important to show them love,” said Bompezzi. “Trump’s campaign was all about hate. I’m so happy that protests like this can take place in a country like ours.”