MADISON, WI — In the streets of downtown Madison and cities across the country, the message is clear — not my president.
For the third consecutive night, protests against president-elect Donald Trump erupted nationwide as the country reels from the billionaire reality TV star's upset victory after one of the most divisive campaigns in U.S. history. Tens of thousands marched in at least 25 cities Thursday night.
Participants have good reason to be upset: Since declaring his candidacy last year, Trump has referred to Mexicans as rapists, called for a ban on muslim immigrants, and denied accusations of sexual assault ranging from rape to groping by over a dozen women. Supporters at rallies have targeted people of color and beaten up protestors, and reports of hate crimes inspired by Trump continue to surface.
"I can't accept such a man as the representation of the country my parents brought me to," said Paula Caviedes, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying political science and an immigrant from Ecuador who was formerly undocumented. "I stayed up all night [Tuesday], hugging my mom and tearing up."
Such anger, fear and disillusionment has motivated the over 50 protests that have taken place since the Republican's defeat of Hilary Clinton, with more planned throughout the weekend.
This despite calls for national unity by the country's political leadership, from President Barack Obama to Clinton to Trump himself, showing how deep lie the wounds inflicted by the republican and the divisions he has laid bare.
Here in Madison, about 1500 people showed up to Thursday's action, a day after hundreds rallied against rape culture at U-W in the wake of Trump's election.
On the steps of the state capitol Thursday, an array of speakers voiced concerns to a racially diverse crowd on what a Trump presidency might mean for the country's minority groups.
Protesters held signs that read "Pussy Grabs Back," "Trump is a Rapist," and "Shut Down Amerikkka," a reference to the support Trump has enjoyed by white supremacist groups. Other placards were more profanity-laced in their condemnation of the real estate mogul.
At the capitol building, demonstrators perched on the white granite railing and stood on the front lawn, evoking the scene here five years ago, when tens of thousands gathered to protest the union-busting measures of Republican Governor Scott Walker in what became a global symbol of resistance to right-wing austerity policies.
Some expressed hope that Trump's victory would be a boon to movement building, in a nod to the marxist notion of "heightening the contradictions," which maintains that positive change can occur following a deterioration in social conditions — in this case the ascension of a misogynist and bigot to the presidency.
"Donald Trump is going to go down in history as the president who started the third wave of civil rights in this country," Kaleem Caire, one of the march's organizers, told the raucous audience at the state capitol.
In a crowd of mostly college students and young adults, Revel Sims and Carolina Sarmiento stood out as they carried their baby near the end of the columns.
"This is what's at stake," said Sarmiento, who is Mexican-American, opening her arms to indicate first her family, then the crowd standing around the capitol building. "Deportation, the separation of family. This is a direct attack on our communities."
Concern about Trump's approach to climate change — he has pledged to leave the Paris climate agreement and once claimed global warming is a lie perpetrated by the Chinese to weaken American manufacturing — spurred Amy Ebbert to come out with a sign about toxic water bordered by decorative lights.
"The environment is the basis of life," she said. "He thinks climate change is a hoax."