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Thousands march to Capitol to protest Trump being elected president

SALT LAKE CITY — An iconic moment unfolded in dramatic fashion Thursday night as thousands of protesters ascended the steps of the Utah Capitol and chanted obscenities against President-elect Donald Trump.

That was preceded by nearly three hours of protests that started outside the Wallace Bennett Federal Building and became a march that snaked around the city before finishing an uphill climb to the Capitol.

The event marked the second significant protest against Trump in as many days in Salt Lake City. It started with several hundred protesters listening to speakers and participating in chants together. It grew enormously — reaching roughly 3,000 — after the march began.

The protest was originally slated to end back at the Wallace Building, 125 S. State Street, after going south to 400 South, east to 300 East, north to 100 South and then west again. But the massive group decided spontaneously to continue up to the Capitol, where thousands chanted the F-word directed at Trump and also yelled "Latino lives matter," and "We do not accept the president-elect."

Police limited their involvement to blocking off streets on behalf of protesters. The protest remained peaceful throughout the evening, though it had a freshly angry tone. The Utah Transit Authority confirmed around 8:15 p.m. that its line had been blocked in the area of 400 South and State Street.

Protest organizers spent the night urging the crowd to get politically active. Theresa Nielson, who helped stage the protest, told those gathered that Trump's presidency would not bring economic prosperity and that those who feel oppressed by his divisive views need to band together.

"A lot of people understand now that we can't just go to the voting booth," Nielson said. "I hope people take away that we need to organize. That is the way to fight racism, sexism and xenophobia."

Carly Haldeman, an active member of Utah Against Police Brutality, said those opposed to Trump need to step up and face the reality that he is now president-elect.

"This isn't a joke anymore," Haldeman said. "We need to keep fighting because nobody else will stand up for us. … He's going to protect (authority figures), not us."

Cristobal Villegas, a member of the Young Democrats who spent time campaigning for Bernie Sanders earlier this year, told protesters that they need to find a worthwhile cause and stick to it long term.

"Right now we're feeling lots of anger, and that's OK. … I better see all of you even more involved (in the future)," Villegas said. "(Trump) got here because we did not do (anything) for years."

Moroni Benally, another activist, urged others to understand that their way of life, particularly if they are a member of the LGBT community, is "directly threatened by Donald Trump."

"(He would) render us invisible," Benally said.

Sean Taylor, a member Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Utah, also spoke to protesters, saying he believes "true democracy means people fighting for the people."

"It's organizing, standing up and fighting back," Taylor said to cheers.

Adrian Romero, an immigration and LGBT rights activist, said Trump is not a friend of working people.

"Trump is far from the working class. He doesn't give a crap about anybody," Romero said.

Romero also noted that Trump's rhetoric has shown "now more than ever … what's behind the mask" in a country filled with prejudices.

"It's up to us to keep safe and (stay) informed," Romero said.

Gabriella Killpack, who also spoke at Wednesday's rally at the Salt Lake City-County Building, asked that others become involved in local politics to develop into "a force to be reckoned with."

Others showed their support by holding up signs reading "Organize & Resist," "Dump Trump," "We are all equal," "Nasty Women Against Trump," "Love Trumps Hate," "Love Conquers Fear," "Diversity Makes America Great," "End White Supremacy" and "It's not being a sore loser when human rights are at stake."

Protestors engaged in numerous chants throughout the night, "Not My President" and "Give Trump hell; it's right to rebel." Others joined the throng spontaneously as it snaked through the city, as others inside the Marriott and several apartment buildings filmed the protest from their windows or joined in to cheer.