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The election may be over, but the political divide is evident at Fresno protest rally

Waving protest signs and chanting “Impeach Trump” and “Trump is not my president,” about 200 people came together Saturday in northwest Fresno for a protest of Donald J. Trump’s election as president.

The rally was at Shaw and Blackstone avenues, the site four months ago of a protest of police shootings locally and nationally. But unlike that protest and some rallies this past week in other U.S. cities protesting Trump’s election, Fresno’s protest remained peaceful.

Justice Medina, who organized July’s rally, said Saturday’s rally was designed to be a peaceful, positive protest. He said he doesn’t agree with Trump’s stance on a variety of issues, including immigration: “He’s the poster child for hate.”

Fresno police said the rally went well and there was no need for more than the five motorcycle officers parked on the northeast corner behind protesters.

In preparation for the rally, Fresno police arranged for backup assistance from other police agencies that were called into service in July for the massive rally and march that took hours to snake through north Fresno and into Clovis. In that march, some protesters attempted to run onto Highway 41 at Bullard Avenue.

Luis Ojeda was one of the rally organizers from Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action. He said he was shocked, like a lot of people, at the election results and wanted to create a space for people to vent their frustration. There are plans for more events like this, he said.

The most dangerous thing about the Trump presidency is that he legitimizes hate, Ojeda said.

“We have no faith in him. We are left to expect the worst.”

The few pro-Trump protesters who came to the rally are “welcomed here, as we all are” but are in the minority because Trump lost the popular vote, Ojeda said.

Some of the conversations between Trump supporters and opponents were amicable, with people shaking hands, but others exchanges were angrier.

Sanger’s Ben Bergquam, holding two signs aloft, acknowledged, “Sure, Trump said a lot of stupid things,” but said he still supports him.

Rally organizers sought assistance from the Central Valley Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, volunteering as observers to make sure no one’s constitutional rights were trampled.

Jack Erickson of Fresno said he is a progressive. He is completely disillusioned by the presidential election and he came to the rally against his wife’s wishes, although she doesn’t support Trump either. “I want to try to heal a little bit, get over the grieving process, find out what to do (next).”

David Elizarraraz, a military veteran and Republican, is an immigrant who grew up in San Jose. He said he came to the rally “not only to express disappointment but to help keep things peaceful.”

Elizarraraz said he didn’t like either Trump or Clinton. “I wish it was Cruz or Rubio or someone, but unfortunately  

David Diaz, 26, brought his Malamute dog named Kody with him to the rally. Diaz, of Fresno, was visiting friends in Los Angeles on election night when he heard the news Trump was elected.

“I felt humiliated, embarrassed and most of all disappointed.”

Diaz, who is gay, said both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence represent a threat. “It’s a double-edged sword.”

Bee staff photographer Eric Paul Zamora contributed to the story. Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPan

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