A protest that started with about 100 people at the Minnesota State Capitol grew quickly Wednesday night as it moved first to John Ireland Boulevard then to downtown St. Paul.

Protesters, who chanted and carried signs, blocked some downtown streets. Their ranks grew as they marched west on University Avenue, blocking both sides of the street and shouting expletives about Donald Trump in English and Spanish.

The group, which peaked at about 300 people, circled back downtown and, at 10:35 p.m., were at St. Anthony Avenue and Marion Street, St. Paul police said. Officers were there directing traffic, but not interfering with the protest. There was no violence, police said.

The protest was one of several in U.S. cities in the wake of Tuesday's election of the GOP candidate, notably in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Portland, Ore.

"This is about what's going to be done in our name," said Peter Rachleff, a former Macalester College professor. "We're all responsible. We're better than this."

Bobbie Scott said, "I'm here because I feel I have to be here. Other work will come later, but for now, I'm here."

Callia Blake, 17, and her 15-year-old friend aren't old enough to vote yet, but came out to protest Trump's ascension, too. "This guy, he's a rapist, he just is awful," she said. "I can't take that; I can't do it."

JoAnn Hendricks, 67, was there with her friend, LaVonne Ellington, 80, who served as a poll watcher on Tuesday. "LaVonne and I didn't vote for Trump. I'm not a 'Trumpladite,' " Hendricks said. "That's why we're here. We didn't know what else to do. I'm really sad."

Earlier, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, some students had a shouting match over the election.

Students were struggling to digest the results of one of the most bitter presidential elections in memory.

"I guess it's really setting in right now," said Sam Wondimu, 20, a U health services major who was one of dozens of students gathered around a single laptop at the Black Student Union, watching as President Obama spoke about Trump's election. "There's a considerable amount of sadness," Wondimu said, and "I guess a bit of fear."

Moments later, a clash broke out between a black student and a white student wearing a Trump "Make America Great Again" hat just outside the black student group's headquarters at Coffman Memorial Union.

Matthew Selmen, 19, said he was doing his homework when another man noticed his hat and started yelling at him, accusing him of being a racist. Selmen videotaped the incident, saying the man threatened him before leaving.

"I think it really comes down to ignorance on behalf of both sides," he said, insisting that students were jumping to conclusions because he was a Trump supporter. "I don't support everything he says or does," he said, but "if we can't have a conversation here, I don't think that's right."

Others, though, wondered if Selmen meant to be provocative. "This is the second floor of Coffman, this is where multicultural students come," said Keren Habtes, a journalism and history major. "So you come here with that hat? It seemed like it was very divisive."

At Macalester, President Brian Rosenberg sent a campuswide e-mail Wednesday, noting that many on the St. Paul campus are feeling "grief, fear, anger [and] bewilderment" in the wake of the election and encouraging anyone "overwhelmed by these feelings" to seek help from the counseling center or other campus services.

In La Crosse, Wis., meanwhile, Chancellor Joe Gow of the University of Wisconsin denounced what he called a hate crime after someone scrawled the words "go home" followed by a racist epithet on an off-campus student residence. "No members of the [university] community should ever have to experience this kind of hate and intimidation," he wrote in a campus e-mail. While he did not mention the racially charged presidential campaign, he wrote that hate crimes "do not occur in isolation," and called on the campus "to work to create a climate of inclusion and respect."

Racist graffiti at Maple Grove High School, shared on social media by students, has prompted an investigation, school district officials said.

"I'm horrified by this action, which goes against everything for which our school stands; it is completely contrary to our core values, both as a school and as a district," Principal Bart Becker wrote in a letter sent to families of students. "We will take swift and appropriate action based on the investigation findings."

Staff writers Rochelle Olson and Beatrice Dupuy contributed to this report. pat.pheifer@startribune.com 612-673-7252

maura.lerner@startribune.com 612-673-7384