Anti-Trump protesters once again poured into the city streets over the weekend. On Saturday, thousands of people shut down Fifth Avenue for more than two miles as they marched from Union Square to Trump Tower, in Midtown East, screaming messages of disgust and defiance at the president-elect. On Sunday afternoon, activists gathered their forces outside of Trump International Hotel & Tower, near Columbus Circle, to protest looming policy measures that would have major consequences for undocumented immigrants and their families.
Saturday’s demonstration was supposed to step off from Union Square at around 3pm, but as participants arrived to find the booths for the holiday market taking up almost the entire south plaza, the march was forced to start a couple of hours early. The NYPD closed Fifth Avenue to traffic and, after initial efforts to contain the crowd, eventually allowed a welcome freedom of movement along the route. Until 56th Street, of course, at which point the avenue turns into Fortress Trump, and the march turned into a rally that extended downtown for at least six blocks.
Messages were legion, from chants and signs advocating Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ rights, to shouts of “Black Lives Matter” and “Our Bodies, Our Choice.” There were also, of course, vast multitudes of ways to say “Fuck Trump” and, on a more positive tip, “We are the popular vote,” an update on the old Occupy Wall Street riff.
Sunday’s march was in support of the #heretostay campaign, formed in opposition to policy measures such as mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and the construction of a southern border wall. Organizers included more than two dozen groups from across the New York City metropolitan area, many of them immigrant advocates with local roots including Make the Road New York, Immigrant Rights Project at NYU Law, and the New York Immigration Coalition. They attracted a diverse group of protestors: Latino families waving Mexican flags, student allies, gay couples, Black Lives Matter activists, police reform advocates, a woman in a luxurious fur coat, and at least one nonagenarian hunched over in a wheelchair.
Compared to other anti-Trump actions in recent days, the protest outside of Trump International Hotel & Tower felt a bit more subdued, with a vocal, but somewhat smaller crowd. “It’s been a long four days of protesting,” one participant remarked.
Organizers of #heretostay (or, #NoNosVamos) welcomed anyone who opposed “Trump’s anti-immigrant, sexist, racist agenda” to join the action. At the same time, the major focus was most definitely the immigrants and their supporters: signs demanded “Keep Families Together,” and chants of “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido” were heard repeatedly. Sticking up from the throng were the cardboard butterflies (monarchs and other species too) that have become a symbol of the migrant cause.
One of the most remarkable things about the rally was that a few police officers could be seen interacting with the protestors, several of them clearly Spanish speakers and immigrants themselves. An outside observer, quickly passing by the protest and chatting on his phone, said, “I mean, how many of us descended from illegal immigrants?”
Click through our slideshow to see images from Saturday’s action.