The roar of thousands protesting Republican President-elect Donald Trump filled Fifth Avenue on Saturday afternoon as throngs of demonstrators headed north from Greenwich Village toward his high-rise home in Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Avenue at 56th Street.
“Show me what democracy looks like!” the crowd that spanned blocks chanted. “This is what democracy looks like!”
Many in the crowd found out about the protest on Facebook, where they were instructed to meet at Union Square at noon. Demonstrators began their march at around 2 p.m., moving up Fifth Avenue until they were impeded by barricades set up by the New York Police Department, closing off the avenue at 56th Street just shy of the soon-to-be president’s Manhattan home.
As the crowd pressed up against the barriers, many raised their middle fingers and booed the 58-story tower.
“Whose streets?” the protestors shouted in unison. “Our streets!”
While the protest remained peaceful, with only murmurs in the crowd about charging the barricades, there were 13 arrests for disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration during a variety of protests from Friday to Sunday, the NYPD said.
“We reject the president-elect!” the masses yelled.
Protestors stayed long after the sun set on November 12 , many of them promising they would stand against Trump’s win every day of his expected presidency. Some voiced the hope that the sheer massiveness of the protests that have followed Election Day would help affect change – with some of that optimism decidedly wishful thinking.
“I’m hoping maybe the Electoral College will decide not to go with the votes of their states,” Susan Boynton, a Columbia University professor, said at the protest. “If there are enough demonstrations like this, they’ll maybe think about doing that.”
Boynton and Rachel Lidov, with whom she marched, said they heard about the protest through social media and wanted to exercise their rights of free speech and protest.
“For one thing, it’s protecting our First Amendment rights,” Lidov said. “And it’s bringing unity to the movement against him, the many, many groups who are organizing against him.”
For John Rubinstein, who explained he came out to protest to ensure a better place for his kids to grow up, his wish is that Trump not be allowed to take office. More realistically, he added that Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice for the vacant Supreme Court seat, should be approved by the Senate in this month’s lame duck session of Congress and that those unhappy with the outcome of the election must mobilize to defend the rights of immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBT community.
“Racist, sexist, anti-gay!” the crowd chanted. “Donald Trump, go away!”
The sea of white signs communicated messages that ranged from the satirical, “Pussy Grabs Back,” to the simple, “Not My President.” Many in the crowd offered messages of unity against “hate and bigotry.”
Throughout the march, Emily Kohl-Mattingley handed out safety pins — a symbol of opposition and unity derived from the aftermath of Brexit, when those opposed to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union donned them to show support for immigrants who might feel threatened by the wave of nationalism sweeping Britain.
“It’s to show a sign of solidarity so that if somebody is unsure when they’re riding a subway or in a public place, to know that they have somebody that supports them,” Kohl-Mattingley said, adding she had handed out more than 50 so far.
“Not my president!” the protestors belted out.
Like others, Kohl-Mattingley said that the protest gave voice to those crushed by Election Night results that gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a lead of more than 1.15 million in the popular vote, but Trump an Electoral College edge of 290-228, with Michigan and New Hampshire not yet officially called.
“I’m out here because I do not support Donald Trump or what he stands for,” she said. “I think he is set out to undo all that Obama has done and all the progress we’ve made in the last eight years.”
Anti-Trump protests have swept dozens of American cities – including, as well, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles – over the past week, with many more planned in the coming days.
“I want to let the world know that New York City and that America is not all racist,” said José Salas, who was protesting with his family and friends. “We welcome immigrants, refugees, we accept the gay community, the transgender community, and we’re just good people. Donald Trump is the incarnation of evil, sadly, but we must let our voices be heard.”