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Boise Post-Election Rally Fights For National Unity After Trump Election

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- Idaho Rep. Mat Erpelding spoke at the Unity Rally Saturday. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Idaho Rep. Mat Erpelding spoke at the Unity Rally Saturday.
- Borah High School Senior Nora Harren (left) and Colette Raptosh of Capitol High School (right) helped organize the rally. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Borah High School Senior Nora Harren (left) and Colette Raptosh of Capitol High School (right) helped organize the rally.
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds Saturday at the Idaho Capitol, Boise Democratic Rep. Mat Erpelding described the Nov. 8 general election as "a mind-numbing experience."

"When I woke up, I felt like progress had been stalled," he said.

Erpelding was speaking as part of a gathering meant to process the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. In that same election, Republicans gained control over both chambers of the Congress and, in Idaho, Democrats lost seats in the Legislature.

Until the 2018 midterm elections—at the soonest—liberals and progressives will be in the passenger seat, with Republicans and Trump conservatives behind the wheel.

Nevertheless, Erpelding stuck to the "unity" part of the Unity Rally.

"Trump will be my President," he said.

- "Spidermaid" explained the safety pin symbol. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • "Spidermaid" explained the safety pin symbol.
Not everyone in the crowd felt that way: Many held signs that read "Not My President" or "Never Trump." There were familiar faces from previous rallies at the Capitol condemning the elevation of the controversial president-elect, whose campaign rhetoric has been threatening to people of color, the LGBT community, immigrants and refugees, journalists, Muslims and Jews.

Cosplay and comic-con personality "Spidermaid" carried a placard bearing a safety pin symbol, which has become a way to signify solidarity with groups targeted by Trump's campaign. Meanwhile, volunteers in the Capitol Mall had been handing out safety pins. Spidermaid said the misogynistic comments made by Trump and his surrogates during the campaign were particularly onerous.

"The safety pin represents a safe space as well as safe people," she said. "There is no place in our state for misogyny."

Many said the same. Boise State University student Zureya Fernandez said Trump hasn't shown he stands for her values as an American.

"What I feel now is anger," she said. "I don't think the president-elect represents me as a woman."

- Ashley Hammond (left) said she was disturbed by President-elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Ashley Hammond (left) said she was disturbed by President-elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric.
Ashley Hammond, a social worker who had come to the rally with her family, said she works with "a lot of marginalized folks."

"They're scared of the implications of Trump's policies," she said.

As a parent, she said Trump's rhetoric also makes him a poor role model for her children.

"There's no way [I'm going to tell them about Trump]," she said. "I'm going to shield them. All the things I'm teaching my kids—Trump embodies none of that."

Among organizers of the Unity Rally were many high-school students. Unable to vote, several said they felt as though they had little say in the political process. Renaissance High School student Monique, 16, said Trump is a hurdle for social progress made during President Barack Obama's two terms in office. What's more, she said, Trump has unleashed regressive and hateful forces in American society through his campaign.

"It's imperative that we make movement for social change," she said. "I think we're lucky to vote, and I'm hoping when the time comes I can. We need to be more educated about voting."

This election was the first in which Luna VanDusky has been able to vote. A 19-year-old Boise High School student, VanDusky, who uses the personal pronoun "they," supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state fought for LGBT and women's rights.

"We have to fight for those around us. We can make a change in the world around us," they said. "It made me feel like I was casting a vote for somebody I believe in."

- Members of the Pipe Hitters Motorcycle Club said they were veterans, and didn't want to see violence or desecration of the flag. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Members of the Pipe Hitters Motorcycle Club said they were veterans, and didn't want to see violence or desecration of the flag.
Nearby, members of the Pipe Hitters Motorcycle Club stood in a group. They said they'd come to oversee the demonstration to ensure there was no violence or desecration of the flag, as there has been at anti-Trump demonstrations in other cities, including Portland, Ore.

"We're seeing what's going on around the country," said one, who identified himself as "Rowdy."

They were joined by a handful of counter demonstrators, who positioned themselves across Jefferson Street from the Capitol Building. Opinion among the counter protesters was that the unity rally differed in tone from gatherings elsewhere.

"We give credit to this group for peacefully assembling," said Anthony Dephue, who had joined with groups like the Pipe Hitters.

Dephue said, however, the visibility of demonstrations against Trump was out of proportion to the election itself.

"We have these demonstrations, and what you don't see is the silent majority," he said.

According to the Associated Press, Trump won the election with 60,350,241 votes, taking home 47 percent of the vote. Clinton won 48 percent of the vote, with 60,981,118 votes, but her popular-vote margin continues to grow as ballots are counted in California, Washington and New York. As of Saturday, the Huffington Post reported Clinton was up 1.8 million votes over Trump with as many as 7 million votes remaining to be counted. Regardless of the popular vote, Trump won the presidency with 290 votes in the electoral college.

Nora Harren, a Boise High School student and Unity Rally organizer, said the demonstration on the Capitol Steps was a sign Boiseans' voices would be heard and her message was one of optimism.

"We are a team because we trust and care for one another," she said. "We want to work for something rather than against it."