Demonstrators walked from Lake Eola Park to the steps of Orlando City Hall early Friday night in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump’s Tuesday night victory.
The protest mirrors similar efforts in West Palm Beach and Miami on the same night, following a week of protests across the nation against President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s policy proposals and campaign trail rhetoric.
Trump’s campaign rallies were largely portrayed as antagonistic towards minorities and critics, with shouts like, “Look at my African-American over there!” and the taunting of a reporter with disabilities making the media rounds as indictments against his character.
There were 600 protesters, according to the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter. The protesters organized mostly through Facebook. An event page for the march gained 1,000 committed followers by the 6 p.m kickoff time.
Event organizers took to Facebook to stress nonviolence.
“We are here for RESPECT. We are here for LOVE. We are here because we believe in EQUALITY. Violence is NOT the answer here,” the group Anti-Trump/Pence Orlando March posted on Thursday night.
The march began at 7 p.m. at Lake Eola Park, and organizers relied on the power of their own voices and word of mouth to spread the evening’s plans. Walkers marched from the park to Orlando City Hall before looping around Anderson Street and Rosalind Avenue back to the park.
Chants like “not my president” and “climate change is real” met more regionally-specific ones like “Orlando united.”
This protest comes almost five months after a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub leaving 49 dead, and the night before the city’s gay pride parade, Come Out With Pride, which is also taking place at Lake Eola.
The protest benefited from barricades already set in place for Saturday’s gay pride march.
“We are here not because we lost, we are here because he has instilled fear in us over eighteen months in his campaign and it’s in us, it resonated,” said nurse Iris García, a supporter.
The Orlando Police Department posted a video on Twitter of Chief John Mina discussing police presence at the protest.
“We follow social media and there were some estimates of 1,800 to 2,000 people,” he said. “This has been a very peaceful gathering, just people expressing their First Amendment rights, and all is going well so far.”
Crowds watched from restaurants, bars and venues in the march’s path, sometimes cheering and waving in support or recording on their phones.
Chelsea Aldrich, a UCF senior majoring in advertising, walked among the crowd with a sign reading: “I’m with people of color, queers, immigrants, women, Muslims.”
“I am deeply disturbed by who we elected as president. I don’t think he speaks to all American people,” Aldrich, 22, said. “I’m here because I love my neighbors; I’m afraid for my neighbors. I have a better vision of our country than we’ve seen in the past few days.”
Similar protests are set to take place through the weekend across the country.