Last night starting at 6 pm, thousands gathered in Union Square Park and marched over 40 blocks through the traffic-filled streets to Trump Tower and then to Columbus Circle to express their displeasure with Donald Trump being pronounced America’s next president.
One of the main organizers of the event was Socialist Alternative, a national activist organization wishing to rally against bipartisanism and global capitalism to “build an independent, alternative party of workers and young people.”
“Organizing mass protests and civil disobedience against every attack by Trump and the Republican Congress is a crucial starting point,” they stated in a Nov. 9 post titled “Build The Resistance Against Trump.” Among the other groups who protested simultaneously were the NYC-based, Latinx-led Justice Committee, the Workers World Party, and the Peoples Power Assemblies.
Chants ranged from demonizing (“Not my president!” “Donald Trump go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay!” “Fuck your wall!”) to empowering (“Black/Muslim/Latino/Trans lives matter” “Pussy grabs back”). One of the more affecting chants was a call and response, when women yelled “My body, my choice!” and men replied “Her body, her choice!” As we passed The Tonight Show‘s studio, many cried “Fuck Jimmy Fallon,” referring to the late-night host’s highly-criticized interview with Trump in September, where he laughed and mussed his hair rather than calling him out on any of his behavior.
At Trump Tower, a woman with a megaphone shouted words of support for the action against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock while others went at a large piñata of Trump. From the distance, I could see something thrown at the Tower’s large glass wall. It was eggs.
There were occasional lags in energy during the long journey to Trump Tower, but any momentary lapse in passion was made up for by the action’s tremendous size. When in the crowd, it was nearly impossible to gauge how big the entire thing was, as it spanned multiple blocks at all times.
“The entire planet is melting,” said Caroline, a photographer and musician from Austin, when I asked her why she came. “We don’t have four years for things to suck.” After expressing a need for renewable energy, she quickly added that, as we’re both white women, what will transpire over the next four years will affect us, but will hurt other more marginalized groups far more.
“I don’t feel like our votes really count, there’s no importance,” the young black man next to me said, citing displeasure with the Electoral College. “At this point [protesting] is all we have. Why not?”
Others had less to say– in a time like this, speaking out can feel fruitless in light of the fact that millions showed support for a man who invalidates and endangers the very identity of many. One woman looked at me plainly and said she was here simply because “Donald Trump should not be president.” Such a statement seemed like a no-brainer, but it’s now clear that for many it’s not.
Not all the people on the street were a part of the action, but some showed their support. An older man in business wear attempted to cross the street in the midst of the march. “Fuck Trump, yeah, go get him,” he murmured as he walked. Many people in cars, unable to progress through the congested streets, got out of their vehicles in solidarity, or just to watch the action unfold. One woman carried a bouquet of yellow wildflowers, giving one to every mailman and cab driver she saw. At Trump Tower, tourist-looking folk gawked in awe of the massive display.
Despite such a huge protest, dissenters were few, at least from what was observable. One younger white man in a button-up yelled repeated cries of “Donald Trump!” from the sidewalk on 51st Street. He was quickly drowned out by repeated chants of “Fuck Donald Trump.”
While I did not observe any unrest (aside from the general anger, of course) for the over three hours I was there, many arrests were made near the end of the protest when many migrated to Columbus Circle. NBC 4 New York reported that at least 65 people were arrested by the end of the night, predominantly for “disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.”
This is surely only the beginning of what will be many actions rallying against what is now our reality. Another protest, not affiliated with any political groups, is scheduled for noon today in Union Square, and another on Saturday in the same place spearheaded by nonprofit news outlet BlackMatters US, according to Facebook. As I trudged to the train after several hours, barely able to move my feet, I overheard three young people clutching signs sitting at a bus stop.
“This isn’t politics,” one said. “This is survival.”
Video by Devin Curry.