In yet another manifestation of America’s deep divide, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets this week across the nation to protest Donald Trump’s election. Among them were several thousand in Minneapolis, during a march and demonstration Thursday night that started at the University of Minnesota, then spilled over to Interstate 94 near Cedar Avenue and blocked traffic for about an hour.
All Americans should support the rights of their fellow citizens to express their anger and frustration through peaceful, legal protest. But local demonstrators crossed the line when they decided to walk onto a highway to obstruct traffic flow. That form of protest is illegal and unacceptable.
Such acts do damage to their legitimate causes and can make the divide even worse. In other cities and on college campuses from Los Angeles to New York, tens of thousands staged mostly peaceful marches and demonstrations Thursday. But in a few cases they shut down highways, burned effigies or tossed Molotov cocktails. When those exercising free expression break the law, they exacerbate tensions in our already fractured nation.
Not long after a protester at a rally for then-candidate Trump was sucker-punched, the Star Tribune Editorial Board condemned violent, illegal acts of protest. After the race, it is equally wrong for anti-Trump protesters to attack someone they believe voted for the billionaire businessman, as was reported after a Wednesday demonstration in St. Paul.
Now that nearly half of Americans have spoken through their ballots, we must accept the result and continue to work — legally — for an administration and Congress that reflect our best, most inclusive values. Yes, there is deep anger, hurt and disappointment among Clinton supporters. The same would have been true for Trump voters had the election gone the other way. Now those strong feelings must be channeled into constructive action.
Some of the sharpest critics, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have called for national unity to address the issues the divided vote exposed. They’ve provided needed leadership during an anxious time. In two years, critical midterm elections will be held, giving Americans another opportunity to peacefully voice their support — or opposition — to the first two years of the Trump administration.