Harry Reid breaks silence: Trump's election has 'emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry'

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid ripped into President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, calling the New York businessman a "sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate."

"The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in American," Reid said in a statement.

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In his first comments on the election of Trump, who shocked much of the US and world with his election night victory, the outgoing Nevada senator said "watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America."

"I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics," he said.

Reid, the Senate minority leader, specifically pointed to the fear some minorities have expressed at the election of Trump.

"I've felt their tears and I've felt their fear," he said.

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Thousands protest Donald Trump across the nation
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Thousands protest Donald Trump across the nation
Demonstrators protest outside of City Hall following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in downtown Los Angeles, California November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
SOUTH GATE, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Students in South Gate protest the election Donald Trump as president in front of City Hall. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 10: Protesters of President-elect Donald Trump march down the I-94 on November 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets in protest in the days following the election of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gesture toward an approaching line of police officers as they stopped traffic on Interstate 580 during a demonstration following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, in Oakland, California, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Thousands of anti-Trump protesters shut down 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower as New Yorkers react to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in an upset to become the 45th president.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Protesters reach Trump Tower as they march against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Protestors hanging onto a signpost shout slogans on 5th Avenue across from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016 in New York, after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the US.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People march in protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in Seattle, Washington, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jason Redmond)

Office workers show their support for protesters marching along Sixth Avenue, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York, in opposition of Donald Trump's presidential election victory.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The Empire State Building is seen in the background as demonstrators hold a sign during a march against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Demonstrators protest on top of a bus outside of the Trump Tower November 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Thousands of people across the United States took to the streets in protest a day after Republican Donald Trump was elected president, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.

(Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

Remy joins protestors marching against Republican Donald Trump's victory in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Makela)

People try to reach Trump Tower as they protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

A demonstrator wears a headpiece depicting the crown of the Statue of Liberty during a protest in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

Protesters burn an effigy of Donald Trump in Lee Circle before a march through New Orleans, La., November 9, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Protestors rally against Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower, November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

People protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/TEMPLATE OUT/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Demonstrators walk through Downtown San Diego in protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in San Diego, California, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker)

A woman chants from a window as demonstrators march on Market Street in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

People climb a pole on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower during protests following President-elect Donald Trump's election victory in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Security forces stand guard in front of the Trump Tower during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump of Republican Party in Chicago, United States on November 9, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Protestors brandish a tattered US national flag during a demonstration on 5th Avenue across from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016 in New York, after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the US.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People take part in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016.

(KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

A protester carries an upside down American flag as she walks along Sixth Avenue while demonstrating against President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. Thousands of protesters around the country took to the streets Wednesday to condemn the election of Trump as president.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Protesters burn a U.S. flag while they reach Trump Tower as they march against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

People take part in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016.

(KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

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The five-term senator said that he felt "their fear is entirely rational" and implored the news media to not produce "fluff pieces."

"Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans," Reid said.

He added: "Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces."

Reid said that the "responsibility of healing" falls "at the feet of Donald Trump," who he noted "lost the popular vote."

"Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans," Reid said. "Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try."

"If Trump wants to roll back tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately," Reid concluded.

Protests erupted across the country on Thursday night. Individuals took to the streets in several major cities to demonstrate against the president-elect.

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Anti-Trump protests in California
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Anti-Trump protests in California
University of California, Davis students protest in Davis, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Police detain a protester marching against president-elect Donald Trump in Oakland, California, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march peacefully through Oakland, California, U.S., November 9, 2016. A separate group earlier in the night set fire to garbage bins and smashed multiple windows. REUTERS/Noah Berger
University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Oakland police officers chase a group of about 50 protesters against president-elect Donald Trump in Oakland, California, U.S., November 9, 2016. Members of the group set fire to garbage bins and broke multiple windows. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march through Oakland, California, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger
University of California, Davis students sit in an intersection during a protest in Davis, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
A woman passes burning garbage during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Students gather in Malcom X Plaza at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Students embrace each other during a demonstration at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Students chant as they demonstrate at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
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In some cities, demonstrations descended into chaos. In Portland, Oregon, an anti-Trump demonstration was declared a riot by the police because of "extensive criminal and dangerous behavior." In Salt Lake City, protesters threatened reporters, according to reports from the scene.

Trump initially called the protests "unfair," but quickly changed his tone.

"Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country," Trump wrote on Twitter early Friday morning.

The president-elect added: "We will all come together and be proud!"

The Republican businessman will be inaugurated as the 45th president in January.

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SEE ALSO: Trump quickly changes his tone toward protesters following criticism

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