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At anti-Trump protests in Chicago, a 'wall of human resistance'

Two organized demonstrations in Chicago on the day of Donald Trump's inauguration merged into a single if splintered downtown protest with crowds chanting in opposition to the new president as they marched through the streets.

After speeches at Daley Plaza, protesters took to the streets and a large crowd gathered at Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, across the Chicago River from Trump Tower. Police stopped them from crossing the river to get to the skyscraper.

The protest broke into many smaller groups as darkness fell and demonstrators marched down in no discernible pattern.

Ten men and six women involved in the protests were arrested, Chicago police said. They face charges ranging from disorderly and reckless conduct to aggravated battery. Additional information about the people who were arrested was not available. 

Loop streets were taken over by the crowd and shut down to traffic, but many nearby motorists honked in approval. There was some opposition, with one man shouting at the crowd, "If he gives Bernie (Sanders) a position, will you all go home?"

At one point, a tuba band belted out an improvised version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," yelling, "Hey, Donald! Leave us all alone." While largely peaceful, there was scattered vandalism as garbage cans were overturned and a bank window was smashed by a man with a hammer.

At Daley Plaza, as the day's protests began, Diane Kasnick, 59, of Downers Grove, held up a rainbow flag with the word "peace" on it. She said Trump has "unleashed some really mean stuff." She said she planned to get on a bus later Friday to join the Women's March on Washington on Saturday.

"It's a show of force saying, 'We are watching.' There are more of us that voted against him, and we are watching to see what you're going to do," Kasnick said of the protests. "If we don't like what you're going to do, we are going to protest, we are going to call our senators and representatives, whatever we need to do so that legislation does not get through."

The protest drew participants from all walks of life: young and old, academics and laborers, even parents who paraded with children on their shoulders.

Carolyn Hall, a graphic designer, said she came out to help boost the spirits of like-minded Trump opponents.

"People's rights are going to be overturned, and we can't give up," Hall said.

Christian Olson, a Realtor, said he stopped in a 7-11 before the protest and wrote "I am ashamed to be American today" on a bag, which he wore outside the Daley Center.

One speaker turned Trump's signature border-wall proposal into a rallying call. "There will be a wall," she said, "but it will be a human wall of resistance."

The new president already has an acrimonious relationship with Chicago, dating at least to a campaign rally in the spring at the University of Illinois at Chicago that was abruptly canceled when a large crowd of Trump opponents showed up.

Trump and city officials also are poised for a showdown as the administration has threatened to cut funding for sanctuary cities. Trump has made immigration a central point of his campaign, vowing to build a wall on the border with Mexico and ramp up deportations.

Shortly after Trump took office, the White House website was revamped to include a reference to Chicago crime.

"The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong," it states. "The Trump administration will end it."

In Daley Plaza, Pablo Solorzano, 37, of McKinley Park, looked down at his 4-year-old daughter and tried to teach her how to say a chant that the protesters had been reprising through the afternoon.

"Can you say, 'Si se puede?'" Solorzano said to daughter Olivia Solorzano, who was sitting in a puzzle-print stroller. She blushed and giggled.

Olivia's mother, Misty Villafuerte, 39, shifted the signs she was carrying from one hand to the other. One of them was a red heart that read "Love Trumps Hate," and the other, "Not Mein Fuehrer!!"

"We want to teach her to fight for her rights," Villafuerte said. "The decisions that can be made in the next four years, like the (selection of Supreme Court justices), decisions on the environment, decisions about her school funding, all these decisions could be made in the next four years and even after he's gone, those decisions will be impacting her."

gwong@chicagotribune.com

gpratt@chicagotribune.com

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