It didn’t take long for protests to start after the major news networks projected Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump to be the winner of the election. As tempers flare and demonstrators gather, it's the responsibility of state and local police forces to keep the peace.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets and students walked out of classes in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, D.C., Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., Seattle and more. Some protests went on for days, some are ongoing and in some cases, the protests turned violent.

Not surprisingly, the largest protests took place in the largest cities. Thousands of demonstrators filled public spaces, parks and streets to express their concerns and dissent. The New York Times reports the protesters were diverse and their opinions varied. LGBTQ people, immigrants, minorities and others carried signs and joined in chants of “Not my president.”

“We need to protest what we believe to be a disturbing turn in politics this week,” Kimie Liu, 40, told the Times as she stood near Trump Tower in New York with her 14-month-old son. “My son is here because this is the future. Trump stands for so many things I find abhorrent, and we won’t sit down when hate wins. We stand for what we believe in.”

Most of the demonstrations were organized in an ad-hoc manner by local activist groups, the Times reports, although national organizations including Showing up for Racial Justice and the National Action Network have offered their support. The demonstrations were largely organized through social media campaigns.

While most protests were peaceful, a demonstration in Portland, Ore. on Thursday night turned violent. In what police are calling a riot, protestors blocked the streets, throwing bottles and rocks at officers. Some demonstrators dragged metal barricades onto public transportation train tracks, causing officials to avoid the downtown area, according to USA Today. According to the official Portland Police Twitter account, a total of 71 demonstrators were arrested.

Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson referred to agitators that stirred up the crowd of nearly 4,000 as “anarchists,” according to CNN, and the demonstration was publically declared a riot due to “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.”

Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman asked peaceful protesters to remain at home, making a clear distinction between those wishing to express their first amendment rights, and those looking to engage in illegal activity.  “We don’t want the lawful protesters mixed up with the criminal anarchist movement that will likely show up.” Marshman told Portland radio station KXL.

“If they could just take a day off from protesting, figure out how to vent their anger elsewhere, that’s going to help us directly confront –  if we need to – the anarchists if they’re bent on doing more criminal activity tonight,” he said. “It’s very, very hard for us to go into a crowd of a couple thousand people and arrest one or two bad actors.”

Police response to the demonstrations has been criticized in at least one city. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, says insufficient staffing at the protests endangered both the public and officers, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

A letter sent by league president Craig D. Lally, says officers “were completely overwhelmed by the number of protestors (sic)” specifically mentioning a gathering on Wednesday, Nov. 9 where “only three LAPD motorcycle units were dispatched to prevent hundreds of protestors from swarming Highway 101.”

However, LAPD Public Information Director, Josh Rubenstein, insists the department has made every effort to maintain order during the protests.

“Last Wednesday, the spontaneous demonstration in downtown Los Angeles quickly grew and created safety hazards for the protestors and, in some cases, the need to take enforcement action against participants who refused to abide by the law,” Rubenstein told the Los Angeles Times. “The LAPD made every effort to re-deploy the resources necessary to protect the areas affected by the demonstrations and quickly adapt to the changing circumstances. The Department’s quick action to redeploy resources coupled with proactive engagement with the protesters avoided substantial property damage and injuries.”

Trump’s own response sent mixed signals regarding his opinion of the protests. Shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 10, Trump tweeted:
 


Then, about nine hours later on the morning of Nov. 11, he seemed to contradict himself by tweeting:

 


In his Washington Post editorial, Philip Bump wrote “It’s hard to reconcile those two statements.”

Protests continue throughout the country’s cities, and multiple news sources report major demonstrations are already being planned for Trumps inauguration on Jan. 20.

 

 

 

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