WASHINGTON/NEW YORK – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump denounced Americans who protested against his election, but praised them hours later Friday, underscoring contradictions that have raised questions about his leadership style.
“Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” Trump tweeted early Friday.
It was a sharp shift in tone from his tweet hours earlier dismissing demonstrators in eight cities as “professional protesters, incited by the media.”
The tweets were further evidence of Trump’s mixed messages since he announced his candidacy 17 months ago. After Democrat Hillary Clinton conceded defeat early Wednesday, he took a far more conciliatory tone than he had often displayed during his campaign and promised to be a president for all Americans.
Anti-Trump demonstrators voiced concerns that his presidency, due to start on Jan. 20, would infringe on Americans’ civil and human rights. They cited his campaign promises to restrict immigration and register Muslims, as well as allegations that Trump, the unlikely standard bearer for the Republican party and a former reality-TV star, sexually abused women.
Protesters rallied for a third day in various cities Friday.
As darkness fell, thousands took to the streets of Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, voicing anger at Trump’s inflammatory and often deeply controversial campaign rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims and women.
In Miami, several thousand activists marched through downtown, with a few hundred making their way onto a highway, halting traffic in both directions.
In New York, demonstrators again gathered in Washington Square Park and by Trump Tower, where the Republican president-elect lives, on Fifth Avenue.
Protesters in various cities have chanted slogans, including “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” and carried signs reading “Impeach Trump.”
White supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, have praised Trump’s election, and some civil rights advocacy groups have reported a spike of attacks on minorities following Trump’s victory Tuesday.
Trump has rejected the KKK’s support.
Most of the protests across the country, which included Washington, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, on Thursday, have been largely comprised of young adults and college students and have been diverse in their ethnic makeup.
One measure of young Americans’ feeling for Trump: A poll by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion prior to the election showed that some 66 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 35 thought Trump should have dropped out of the race following the October release of a 2005 video in which he was seen talking about groping women.
“This antipathy toward Trump is very real and very deep-seated,” said Joshua Dyck, an associate professor of political science at the school. “I suspect that protests, especially on college campuses, will be a more or less permanent feature of his presidency.”
With the country evenly divided, many voters were shocked by the result given that opinion polls failed to predict Trump’s triumph. The Republican Party also managed to maintain its majorities in both houses of Congress in Tuesday’s vote.
More anti-Trump demonstrations were planned for the weekend, including in New York and Los Angeles. A group calling itself “#NotMyPresident” has scheduled an anti-Trump rally for Washington on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, when the New York real-estate developer formally succeeds President Barack Obama.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday acknowledged the tight race with Clinton, but said anti-Trump protesters have to accept the election results. He pointed to Trump’s call for unity and meetings on Thursday with Obama and Republican leaders as reasons for reassurance.
“Everyone needs to just take a deep breath, take the weekend … count our blessings, and let’s come back on Monday,” Priebus said.
Security barricades now shield some of Trump’s highly visible properties, including the newly opened Trump International Hotel near the White House and Trump Tower in New York.
Trump’s base of support in the election was the broad middle of the country, from the Heartland through the Rust Belt, with voters in states that had long supported Democrats shifting to Trump after he promised to renegotiate trade deals with other countries.
In Washington, two Trump supporters carried signs reading: “All We are Saying is Give Trump a Chance.”
A protest in Portland, Oregon, late Thursday grew violent with demonstrators throwing objects at police and damaging cars at a dealership. Police arrested at least 26 people.
In Los Angeles, police arrested about 185 people, mostly for blocking roadways or being juveniles out past curfew, during a Thursday night march, police spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said in a telephone interview.
One officer was hospitalized for injuries suffered during the protest, she said.
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