By Tim Ryan and Brandi Buchman
WASHINGTON (CN) – Hundreds of D.C.-area teenagers too young to vote in last week’s presidential election cut school Tuesday to protest Donald Trump's surprise victory.
As laid out in calls for the protest that went viral on social media, students left class at noon to meet in front of the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington.
Chanting "love trumps hate" and "fuck Donald Trump,” some of the students held signs that read "not my president" or denouncing offensive language Trump directed at immigrants, minorities and women during his campaign.
Payton, a 17-year-old who attends Sidwell Friends High School, spoke about the issues like a veteran policy wonk.
“I’m worried for my own 11-year-old sister,” Payton said in an interview. “We have to live on this planet. I’m worried about Keystone. I’m worried about putting a climate skeptic in office. I’m overwhelmed, so I’m trying to channel it with something productive like this.”
Others were less precocious. "IDK, not Trump tho," one bright green sign read.
Stretching for several city blocks, the line of protesters included at least 500 people, perhaps as many as 1,000, at its largest point. Because the protesters are minors, Courthouse News is not printing their full names.
As adults stopped to watch the demonstration, one student interrogated them about how they voted. The crowd of students erupted in a thunderous cheer whenever a new line of protesters streamed down the street to join the rally.
Eventually the group moved seven blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol Building. A police officer on a motorcycle led the protesters up the street until they reached a roundabout in front of the Capitol.
"We're here to show America and people around the world that not everybody believes in Trump's rhetoric," said Sadatu, a high school student from Washington who marched in the protest.
Police surrounding the Capitol building greeted protesters calmly, telling students bearing flags and signs that they were not permitted to go any further onto the grounds. Some students received a warning when they climbed onto a statue at the center of the circle.
A large group then sprinted up a sidewalk toward the Supreme Court, which is directly across the street from the Capitol Building.
"You're the problem!" one group of students yelled at an adult who called out to them in the otherwise peaceful march.
Tuesday’s demonstration mirrors those that have bubbled up in cities from Portland to New York over the past week after the electoral college elected Trump despite his having lost the popular vote to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
One contingent of protesters outside the Supreme Court took issue with Trump’s pick of Stephen Bannon, a darling of the white-supremacist movement, as his chief strategist.
“Ban Bannon not Muslims,” read a sign carried by three black students from Woodrow Wilson High School.
“When people heard about Bannon they said they wanted to move or run away, but I don’t know think that’s what we should do,” said Sarwah, a 17-year-old protesting with her 14-year-old sister Makada and 14-year-old Sarah.
The girls said the protest is their first brush with political activism, and probably not their last.
“If we can come together once a week, that would be good,” Sarwah said smiling. “You never know what will happen from week to week.”
The trio said they are taking action because of the dread they feel for a Trump presidency.
“He’s not here to support us, he’s here to have power,” Sarwah said of the president-elect.
The youngest member of the trio offered her opinion quietly.
“I don’t think Trump should be president, and we will keep protesting to show that we will not give up,” Sarah said.
As for the future first lady, Sarwah said Melania Trump’s modeling career does not make her a good role model.
“Who wants her going to schools and reading books to kids,” the teen asked. “No one wants someone who looks like porn star to read books to little kids. That’s a bad influence. Kids look up to the first lady.”
Payton noted that she skipped her gender-studies class at Sidwell Friends High School to voice her dissatisfaction with the Republican ticket.
“Personally I knew I had to come,” Payton said. “I’m a bisexual woman and so I feel that I’m being attacked on several personal levels.”
“We have been working so hard to change history for women, and it is sad to see another setback,” she added.
Payton took affront with Trump’s running mate in particular. Amid the vitriol of the election season, the Republican governor of Indiana’s record for trampling civil rights went largely under the radar.
“Having a man like Mike Pence in a position of power, someone who would try to pass laws to make women bury their fetuses,” Payton said. “That’s such a visceral, awful, cruel thing to do. It scares me so much.”
Amid chants of "we reject president elect,” 17-year-old Sonia said she joined the march today because she "wants to see students come together and have their voice heard."
"I don't want to see the world get worse,” the girl asked. “If we don't do this for each other, who will?"
Payton, the Sidwell student, had a tip for Americans upset about the election.
“You can’t fight it all at once,” she said, “Pick a cause. Each person should fight really hard for what they believe in. And let older people in your life, or Trump supporters, know why all of this matters to you.”
“My grandfather told me he voted for Trump to help his grandchildren,” she added. “I’m his granddaughter, and this isn’t helping me.”
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