Society

Obama Calls For Unity Amid Protests

| by Nik Bonopartis

After three nights of protests -- some of them violent -- following president-elect Donald Trump's election day win, current President Barack Obama urged Americans to unify while delivering a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

The president was delivering a larger speech on the importance of supporting U.S. military veterans when he implored protesters to calm down.

"Veterans Day often follows a hard-fought political campaign, an exercise in the free speech and self government that you fought for," Obama said, per USA Today. "It often lays bear disagreements across our nation. But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners. It is to find strength in our common creed. To forge unity from our great diversity, to sustain that strength and unity even when it is hard."

Likewise, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded to a reporter's question on Nov. 10 by minimizing the difference between voters of differing ideologies.

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"We're Democrats and Republicans, but we're Americans and patriots first," Earnest said.

Protesters have taken to the streets in at least a dozen American cities, clashing with police in several instances. The violence has overshadowed more numerous, peaceful protests across the country.

In Los Angeles, protesters marched on city hall, where they burned a paper-mache image of Trump in effigy, and beat a Trump pinata, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Protests in San Francisco were largely peaceful, the same report said, while some protesters in Oakland broke windows and damaged property.

Large groups of protesters temporarily shut down major arteries in the Los Angeles area, according to the Los Angeles Times, while police were able to turn a group of protesters away from the Golden Gate Bridge, where they hoped to stall traffic.

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“One of our greatest privileges as Americans is the right to free expression,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote in a statement, per the Times. “But walking and throwing objects onto freeways is dangerous for pedestrians and drivers — and it puts a heavy burden on people just trying to make it home to their families or get to work safely.”

In Portland, peaceful protests were overshadowed by violence that erupted when some 4,000 demonstrators began smashing shop windows, lighting garbage on fire and setting off fireworks, the BBC reported. Police in Portland told the network that some protesters carried baseball bats and others threw rocks at cops, prompting the police to respond with pepper spray and rubber bullets.

A video shot in Chicago has gone viral after a white driver was beaten by a mob of people who accused him of voting for Trump. The victim told CBS Chicago that he initially stopped his car and got out because the vehicle behind him had rear-ended his car.

When he tried to exchange insurance information with the other driver she punched him, sparking an extended scene of violence in which several people stomped on the victim and eventually took his car, dragging him for several city blocks, CBS Chicago reported.

"You voted Trump, you voted Trump, damn!" a person is heard yelling off-camera as several men kicked the victim in the face.

Others, such as a woman who spoke to CNN on live TV, predicted further violence.

“There will be casualties on both sides," the woman said "There will be, because people have to die to make a change in this world."

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway linked to the video from her Twitter account, calling for Obama and Clinton to do more to calm the public.

"Not cool," Conway wrote. "@POTUS or Hillary should address."

Sources: USA Today, BBC, Los Angeles Times, Yahoo News (2), Mediaite, CBS Chicago / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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