SALT LAKE CITY — Several hundred people converged outside the Salt Lake City-County Building on Wednesday to voice their collective opposition to President-elect Donald Trump and urge an uptick in political participation.
"The real message we wanted to bring is: This is our country too. We're here and we matter," protester Chelsea Manzanares said.
Protesters held signs reading "Love Trumps Hate," "We Will Not Yield" and "Dump Trump," and they chanted "stand up, fight back" and "still we rise" while raising their fists in solidarity.
Several speakers addressed the attentive crowd, calling for hope in the face of what they described as a surprising and disappointing presidential election. Many of the remarks focused on showing an increase of support for immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.
Manzanares said "the mood at first was really harsh" among her loved ones following Trump's election. It was cathartic to rally with like-minded people who oppose his views, she said.
"The need was to take that negative emotion and give a positive outlook to it," Manzanares said.
One speaker who drew deafening cheers was U.S. Senate candidate Misty Snow, Utah's Democratic nominee who lost handily to Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Lee.
"It doesn't matter what you look like, where you're from, what your background is, how much education you have, you can run for office," Snow said to one of the loudest cheers of the night after recalling her upset victory in the Democratic primary. "You can make a difference in your community."
Snow, the first ever transgender candidate for U.S. Senate and first ever female candidate for the office from Utah, urged those present to involve themselves in politics as a way to overcome their anxieties about the future of the country.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, and you know what? That's what it takes. … You've got to pick yourself up, she said.
Snow lauded the election of new Democrat candidates in the Utah Legislature and said she remains hopeful for the future, despite her view of Trump's election as a "tragedy."
"This country survived President Nixon. This country survived (President) Reagan," she said. "This country survived the Bushes."
Snow also criticized the electoral college system, pointing to estimates that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to win the popular vote when results are finalized nationwide.
"This is a system that is unjust and needs reform," she said.
Gabriella Killpack, an organizer for Utah Against Police Brutality, told the crowd that Trump "is a symbol of everything that is wrong in this city."
"He has no claim to our respect or our support," she said. "We can do better than this."
Killpack also urged those gathered to gain influence by joining local political and activist groups that they can support.
"We know this is how we win," she said.
One protester said she felt compelled to attend the anti-Trump rally as a show of courage and to share in a "common and shared grief."
"I feel ethically obligated to fight against oppression in all forms," said Karen, a social worker from Salt Lake City who declined to give her last name. "I think it's to raise consciousness and education. I think ignorance and apathy got us here."
Ash Anderson, a Democratic state Senate candidate, said he is disappointed in Trump's victory. Anderson garnered 44 percent of the vote in Utah Senate District 8, covering Cottonwood Heights and Murray, compared with 55 percent for Republican incumbent Sen. Brian Shiozawa.
To those who can confidently say everything will work out during Trump's presidency, Anderson said, "you're probably white, you're probably straight, you're probably in a pretty comfortable spot as far as a family net."
He said speaking out in opposition to the president-elect is one way for disillusioned Americans to maintain hope.
"We have to work harder than ever or there is none," Anderson said.