I thought it would be interesting to see what the situation was at Trump Tower a week after the election.
It was raining and dreary that Tuesday, but there was a small band of protesters from Columbia University out in full force. “Build Bridges Not Walls!” they yelled, as they marched in an area a block away from Trump Tower. They were cordoned off by the many, many police barricades that were set up in front of the Trump Tower, creating what looked to me like a series of small walls separating the home of the President-elect from the public.
In my mind’s eye it was like the Tower of Babel, protesters with signs in between the barricades that ran out in concentric circles from the central building (Trump Tower) that rose high into the air above them. I imagined Donald Trump on the top floor, looking down at the scene below from that high perspective. Can he hear it from up there? I wonder. As you moved out further from the center of the commotion, police stood watch, cabs rode by, and shoppers strolled along Fifth Avenue, seemingly oblivious to the ruckus surrounding the tower.
Surreality has become the new reality in midtown Manhattan.
The next day (Wednesday) was sunny, so I thought I’d go by there again, to see if the nicer weather would bring out even more protesters. Instead, it brought out the tourists! Apparently the Trump Tower now rivals Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a midtown landmark to take selfies in front of:
One lone protester held up his sign as people from all over snapped their selfies. White House NYC. And the news reporters sat in the pit across Fifth Avenue from the entrance, no longer open to the public, (despite the sign) and waited for the potential players in the new cabinet to come in and out.
People had different responses to this scene as they walked by. (One of the benefits of reportage illustration is that you overhear so many pieces of conversation in the streets.) One woman walking by said to her companion: “I guess everyone is over it now. I’m not over it.”
And a couple of Hasidic women asked one of the many cops guarding the barricades: “This is how he starts his Presidency: holding up traffic? Not good, not good!” Ha ha, so New York. I have to agree with them, the last thing New Yorkers need is another midtown traffic tie-up during the holiday season.
I hung around for a while longer, but soon decided to head home. As I walked down Fifth Avenue, a man walked toward me, wearing a “Make America Great Again” red hat. Don’t know if it was my expression or some other reason, but as he came close to me he took it off, and put it into his Trump Store shopping bag. The Trump Store? Didn’t know that a store like that even existed. Oh boy, I guess the commodification of the presidency has just begun.
Of course, I hope the President-elect does some good for this country – especially for those working class areas that need the help and attention he promised to bring. Nothing would be better than for it to work out. But like many others here in NYC and elsewhere across the country, and the world, I am very worried about Donald Trump’s ugly campaign rhetoric. I will protest – and continue to document the protest of – any steps he takes that would fulfill the ugliness he professed during his campaign. Every voice matters!