The crowd wedged between buildings as, one by one, people stood at the top of stairs on the side of the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh and spoke.
They spoke about fear, worries and the people in their lives who were afraid.
But they also spoke about love and unity.
They urged each other that no matter how difficult, they needed to unite with those who voted for Republican Donald Trump and have tough conversations.
A group already outside was joined by hundreds who were previously inside at the “Emergency Meeting: Let’s unite to stop President Trump,” an event that sprang up within hours of a Trump presidency being announced. For more than an hour, speakers took turns in front of the crowd. Some said they were activists who’ve done this before. For others, it was their first time in front of a crowd.
Then — like other groups across the country Wednesday night — they took to the street chanting things like “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA.”
The protest started to break up when police used what they later described as “magician’s smoke” that has no chemicals, police Cmdr. Ed Trapp told The Incline.
Before the outside speakout and march, the meeting space inside of the Ace Hotel was packed. (Organizers of the meeting told the crowd it was the space they could get on such quick notice. They folded up chairs so there was more room to stand.)
After it started, people still spilled out of the ballroom and down the stairs.
Antonio Lodico, executive director of the Thomas Merton Center, said organizers reached out to him to help with the events. (The center isn’t political and doesn’t weigh in on elections, but rather responds to injustices.) He estimated between 400 and 500 people attended.
Before small group discussions, some organizers spoke to the group.
“The only thing standing between us and this monster that is at the door are the people in this room,” Dan Moraff said.
This isn’t closure
Organizers and attendees reminded each other that Wednesday night wasn’t about closure. That would take more time.
But, they said it’s not about placing blame either, because that won’t help.
Repeatedly, people took the bull horn or the microphone inside and said they were scared.
Scared their friends and family wouldn’t have the right to an abortion.
Scared for LGBT rights.
Scared of a wall between family in Mexico and family in the U.S.
“I think I’m here for the same reason as everybody else, I’m scared shitless,” started one speaker.
Call to action
Speakers and organizers called on the crowd, especially white allies, to unite with others.
They said Trump supporters aren’t people who are far away somewhere in the middle of the state or in the middle of the country, instead they are friends and family on Facebook or that “awkward uncle” at Thanksgiving.
They called on each other to spread love and start educating, even if it’s difficult, even if you think someone else is wrong.
Because that’s the only way to come together for change, they said. Plus, speakers said you just might find something in common.