A week after Donald Trump stood at Bayfront Park in Miami asking for votes, hundreds of protestors of his presidency began a peaceful march there that moved onto the MacArthur Causeway, stopping traffic in both directions, and later, Interstate 95.
The protest joined others nationwide as it began shortly before 6 p.m. in front of Bayfront Park Amphitheater.
The boisterous group numbered 300 to 400 people when it started marching north on Biscayne Boulevard at 6:15 p.m. Chanting “Black lives matter,” “Trans lives matter,” and “Love trumps hate,” they marched past Bayside Marketplace, then forged past AmericanAirlines Arena and on past the museums.
Miami police, who had stayed off to the side, raced ahead in vehicles to block the roads and keep the marchers safe.
At the MacArthur Causeway the group headed east up the ramp toward the beach. They wielded handmade signs reading “You’re fired” and “Not my president.”
Megan Shade, 26, a recent Florida International University grad and Democrat party volunteer, said she helped coordinate the protest as an emotional outlet for people.
“A lot of us are extremely frustrated,” said Shade. “My goal is for people to get their frustrations out peacefully.”
Courtney Abbott, a high school senior who turned 18 last month and voted for Hillary Clinton, came with three of her friends to protest that although Clinton had won the popular vote, Trump had won in the Electoral College.
“It’s baseless,” she said. “What has it done for us? The people chose, and the people chose Hillary.”
As the protestors got onto the causeway, the protesters climbed onto barriers and blocked traffic in each direction, still chanting. A small group came west from Miami Beach and joined the group just east of Biscayne Boulevard.
By 7:15 p.m., traffic on the causeway had been blocked for more than 30 minutes. The crowd of protesters grew.
Robert Smith was on his way to dinner when he got stuck in the protest. He was with three friends who are Coast Guard veterans and wanted to take advantage of Veterans Day discounts. But because of the protest, they said, they missed their dinner reservations.
“I’m not annoyed,” Smith said. “It’s an inconvenience, but this is what we signed up for when we won the birth lottery and were born in America.”
The traffic jam stretched west on the Dolphin Expressway. Police barricaded the expressway, blocking cars from approaching the MacArthur and forcing traffic to turn onto northbound Interstate 95.
The protest was organized by a coalition of activist groups ranging from the Socialist Party to the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. Their causes ranged from abolition of the Electoral College to Black Lives Matters to LGBTQ rights.
Protesters included people of all ages, races and genders, with babies and children.
“It encourages me to see the young people taking a stand for what is right. There’s no room for hate in this country,” said the Rev. Carlos Cruz, sitting on a wall on the MacArthur and taking part in the march and chants.
Ron Wood, a Trump supporter from Wisconsin, brought his three children, ages 11 to 14, to experience the protest
“I wanted to educate my kids that there’s more than one view,” he said.
His 13-year-old daughter, Jessica, said she was surprised by signs with strong or profane language.
“There’s so much hatred toward Trump,” she said.
By 7:30, some protesters had climbed over the median and headed back east toward the mainland. Florida Highway Patrol officers directed them down the embankment on the north side of the causeway back toward Biscayne Boulevard and then south toward the park where they had started. But then they kept going.
Blasting bullhorns and still chanting, they passed under the towering condos on the boulevard as dozens of people watched from high above on balconies.
Their numbers still growing — police estimated the crowd at several thousand at its peak — they walked abreast, filling the southbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard. They walked to DuPont Plaza and then toward I-95. Behind them, the causeway reopened in both directions just before 8 p.m.
“I don’t like how they picked Donald Trump, because he’s a racist person,” said Roman Martinez, a 13-year-old from Ponce Middle School. He was marching with his mother, Yosian Martinez, who voted for Clinton.
Shortly after 8 p.m., they walked onto northbound I-95 and blocked traffic in both directions. Some people lay down on the road. Others stopped in front of the Miami Police Department and chanted. A protestor stood in the middle of the road and opened a sign that said “All oppression creates a state of war.”
Then the marchers, with a police escort, headed onto I-395 east, while a much smaller number stayed on I-95. By 9 p.m., their numbers had dwindled. Participants were noticeably less organized and enthused, and the chanting became scattered and less frequent. Many marched in silence or talked among themselves.
With the assistance of police who blocked the street, protestors walked down the ramp from I-395 onto Biscayne Boulevard, back where they started. They regrouped on the steps of Pérez Art Museum Miami and protested Trump’s position on building a wall on the Mexican border. Drivers honked to the beat of their chants; others stopped to dance with demonstrators. With fewer children in the crowd, language was much more colorful as protesters cursed the new president-elect and vice president-elect Mike Pence.
The #NotMyPresident protestors finished on the lawn of Bayfront Park, handing the microphone around so people could comment.
“When we started this, I didn’t expect all of you to be out here,” David Michael said. “We have to actively remind them that we’re not having what they’re feeding us. I’m just amazed. I really am.”
Richard Murphy, a member at Metropolitan Community Church, which he called a progressive protest church, said he came with his church friends to help promote a cultural revolution of love and care based of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Even though he doesn’t think change will be immediate, he said he looked to millennials for hope.
“Even if it doesn’t happen in my generation, it will happen in their generation,” he said pointing to a nearby female teenager. “We’re in for the long haul. We keep fighting.”