On the heels of last night’s massive protest march in response to Donald Trump’s election, demonstrators again gathered in Union Square this afternoon to voice their opposition to the president-elect. “This is what democracy looks like,” protesters chanted while waving signs with anti-Trump slogans.
The loosely organized gathering began as a Facebook event created by Magdalena Santos, the founder of a Gowanus t-shirt company. When the protest began around noon, media members and protesters were roughly equal in number, but the demonstration soon grew to include several dozen sympathizers, along with dozens more curious observers gathered around the chanting anti-Trump crowd. Protesters urged onlookers to cross the line of media members with cameras and join the demonstration, cheering loudly when a new member joined their ranks.
“I hope people will wake up,” said Alexandra Bueno, 28, who was among the first protesters on the scene. “I was not surprised by Trump winning, but a lot of people were. I think that’s because people like to think they live in a more progressive society, when that’s simply not the truth. He brings out the hate that lives in people already.”
Bueno said she’ll continue to march and demonstrate against Trump at every opportunity. “I hope that people will continue to fight—year round, not just two days after the election,” she said. If you are a human and you want to keep your human rights, you need to start doing something about it.”
There were few speeches and no unified message or stated goal beyond general opposition to Trump. Improvised chants were the protesters’ preferred mode of communication, including slogans such as “Build bridges, not walls,” “We reject the president-elect,” and “The pussy grabs back.”
While the protesters may have been unified in their opposition to Donald Trump, the surrounding crowd was more conflicted, as several conversations between bystanders erupted into heated political arguments.
“Everybody’s welcome here,” the crowd chanted at one point.
“Legal people are welcome here,” countered a dissenting man wearing a Mets hat and jacket who soon left the protest in frustration.
As the protesters broke into a chant of “Fuck Donald Trump,” an older man watching from afar shook his head.
“These people are just sore losers,” said the man, who declined to give his name for this story, noting that he nonetheless respected the protesters right to gather. “This is part of America. It doesn’t bother me a bit. I just think it’s ironic, for all the rhetoric that was said beforehand about how Trump wasn’t being nice, that now the tables are turned on their stance on how to act civil and accept the American system.”
One slogan particularly annoyed him: “When they say ‘not my president,’ unless they give up their citizenship, he really is their president.”
One protester, James Vecchione, 41, explained that he’d come to the demonstration because he felt “gutted and drained and powerless” after the election. “I guess I wanted to feel something with other people and commiserate,” he said.
Vecchione said he’d been heavily involved in the Occupy movement in his hometown of Providence, but the experience had left him wary of protests as an effective means of producing change. “My problem with them is that they tend to be too binary. They don’t really answer the complex questions. People get geared up and emotional, but they don’t necessarily solve the problems that you’re facing.” But despite his misgivings about political demonstrations, he said that he hoped that the anti-Trump protests in cities around the country would lead to a more organized and politically aware public. “I hope that people organize and fight Donald Trump every step of the way. We need to protect our own rights. We need to protect women and minorities and immigrants and the environment. I’m not sure how to do it, but I’d like to find a way. “