Echoing protests that have sparked across the country in response to the unprecedented presidential election of Donald Trump, nearly 200 people gathered in Overton Park and marched through Overton Square to Cooper Young Friday evening.
"I'm pleased that you are here," said Congressman Steve Cohen to a growing crown in Overton Park. "This is the worst election result we've had in my lifetime and maybe the country's history. It's scary the racist and xenophobic statements that were said about people by candidates — and the tolerance of them. It's really important that people come out and show that they don't believe in this and they don't endorse it."
Wearing a Memphis themed ball cap, Cohen said he wore it because "our city has a soul," even if the country didn't represent that on Tuesday. Cohen asked that protesters "not turn violent," noting damage done by protests — some still ongoing — that began in cities from New York to Los Angeles earlier this week.
As protestors crossed Poplar Avenue and made their way to Overton Square, Memphis police officers did little to disrupt the protest. Officers blocked traffic with their cars, allowing those marching to cross the street. Officers on foot directed traffic, often asking protests which direction they would be walking next. Protestors, too, stuck to the sidewalk, not blocking traffic for the most part.
Jacqueline Quintanar, 32, helped organize the protest. Quintanar said felt it wasn't a time where she could stand by and do nothing.
"I saw friends around me crying and their families being torn apart," she said.
Anne Smith, 33, along with her two children Zoey, 5, and Ezra, 2, said she came to the protest to show them how important it is to vote and use their voice.
"I think it's important to show our children who is going to represent us as a country," Smith said. "I don't think President Trump can represent myself or my country. We're very open with them, and we try to educate our kids as much as possible."
Once protestors neared the intersection of Cooper Street and Young Avenue, they formed a circle at the gazebo. Raising high a sign that read "Science is not a hoax: Protect our earth," Kase Spilman, 22, said she was a staunch supporter of clean energy, saying climate change is the "the least discriminatory force in the world that will affect everyone no matter their race, religion, or where they came from."
"If we don't take care of it now it's going to be too late," Spilman said. "Trump's 100-day plan involves directing funds away from climate change. He's already appointed Myron Ebell, a top climate skeptic, to take over the Environmental Protection Agency. We can't have people who don't believe in climate change in charge of what we're going to do to combat climate change."
Mark Sturgis, 34, stepped into the middle of the circle amidst chants of "pussy grabs back" and "this is what democracy looks like" and said Friday night's protest would be the first of many during Trump's presidency.
"This is an active resistance to an agenda of hate," Sturgis said. "This is just a warn up."
There will be another protest on Main Street Saturday from noon to 1:30.
This story will be updated with better photos and videos.