Protester Kiana Wilkerson says she wants to show others that peacefully resisting and protesting President Donald Trump "is okay"

By Char AdamsKatie Kauss and Tierney McAfee
Updated January 21, 2017 01:12 PM
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As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Friday, thousands were gathered in the nation’s capital to protest his presidency.

Kiana Wilkerson, 20, from Williamsburg, Virginia, and her friends were among those protesting Trump just outside his inauguration on the Capitol steps.

She tells PEOPLE, “I’m here to let Trump know that we’re resisting him and that he’s not good for our country. He’s taking us a step back for our rights.”

Wilkerson – who wore a blue poncho and a yellow sign that said “Stand with immigrants! Say no to racism!” – said she wants to show others that peacefully resisting and protesting Trump “is okay.”

“Hopefully from this point there will be a lot more movement internationally and nationally, to show that resisting is okay and protesting is okay,” she explained. “I want Donald Trump to know that he just can’t take away our rights. We will resist him.”

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From left to right: Sara Wang, Kiana Wilkerson, Kaitlin Opie, Rishi Gupta and Nick Kozlowski
| Credit: Char Adams

Now that Trump is officially president, Wilkerson said she hopes he will show more compassion and respect for people who are “different.”

“More respect for human beings is a good start,” she said. “Just being a nicer person and knowing that people have feelings and their rights matter and that they shouldn’t be stepped on because they’re different.”

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She’s also hopeful this will be Trump’s last inauguration — and her last inaugural protest.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.