Monday, December 12, was a march and boycott strike to protest the presidential election, organized by the Nationwide Women and Allies. In New York City, the (mostly) women marched from Columbus Circle to Trump Tower, and, despite my busy schedule, and the rainy day, I decided to march with them.
As I exited the subway at the Trump International hotel in Columbus Circle, I saw a smallish but energetic group gathered getting ready to move toward the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. They were an inspired group, despite the dreary day, marching through the Central Park holiday stands selling gifts to tourists, reminding everyone that business as usual can NOT continue! (As one of the signs said, “This is NOT Normal!”.) My favorite lady in the group was the spunky older woman rolling across Central Park South in her jazzy, waving a “Not My President” sign with gusto.
The group moved as a unit across Central Park South, chanting as they went, past the swanky hotels, horse and carriages rolling by, snaking along, turning the corner and making their way down Fifth Ave., past the holiday decorations, under the crystal snowflake on 59th Street, and right up to the police barricades surrounding the block where Trump’s home sits.
As they marched, New Yorkers and tourists were generally either neutral or positive in their responses. One guy slowed down in his pick-up truck long enough to yell, “Go Home!” out his window, and the ladies were happy to yell back in unison!
People had signs of all kinds – “Dump Trump!” “Not My President” “Show Us Your Taxes” “Pay Your Taxes!” “Climate Change is Real!” “This is NOT Normal!” “New York City Welcomes Immigrants!” and many, many signs with pictures of little pussy cats. The ladies were angry, and shouted out slogans in unison. How could a man who said such disrespectful and degrading things about women in general, and has had so many women come forward to confirm that what he says, he does, be elected as our president? I don’t know, and I feel angry about it too. Not to mention the fact of the many, many other disrespectful things he’s said about Americans of all kinds, and the just plain old scary (to me) positions on issues that this man has taken. (Climate change is not real? What???) Oh boy. Oh boy.
There were a few lanes of Fifth Avenue closed off to accommodate an area surrounded by police barricades that the group was ushered in to. As they congregated there, shouting and waving signs, people walked up and down Fifth Avenue, going about their business. The sidewalk in front of the barricades became a kind of viewing area, where people could cheer, or take pictures, or in general react to the overall scene. Unlike the man in the pick up truck, the bystanders were mostly in support – honking horns as they drove by on Fifth, or letting out a cheer as they passed. One man yelled out, “I gotta go to work, or I’d be there with you!” Which, as you can imagine, met with much approval! One anti-anti Trump guy was very unusual in his protest of the protesters – dressed in a cowboy hat and a santa suit, he hopped around yelling out nonsense – “blah, blah, blah!” and clapping a large toilet seat open and closed like a mouth. There was a kind of shuffle and dance that went along with it – wow! I didn’t agree with his position but loved his sense of illustration. He definitely had the flair for theatrics!
At one point a guy stepped on to the sidewalk with a bull horn, yelling out for the crowd to quiet down, which they did. He had come from the Chicago DNC, and wanted to thank everyone on behalf of the city of Chicago, for exercising their First Amendment right to protest. He then went into a long comparison between events in the US now and the book, 1984. About ten minutes into this, some woman yelled out, “Enough already – The DNC let us down! Shut up and go home!!” – To which everyone started cheering and going back to chanting their slogans.
Ha ha, don’t tell a bunch of angry women to be quiet – EVER! (Good advice for Mr. Trump, too.)
Through it all, I keep looking up at that tower and wondering, is anyone home? Is anyone at the wheel? And ultimately, what are we in for over the next four years?
Only time will tell, but it’s good to know, as my favorite sign said, that “You Cannot Oppress The People Who Are NOT Afraid!”
Because so many people in New York City ARE afraid right now, immigrants, muslims, and others, it’s important to keep our voices heard and let those fearful fellow New Yorkers know: We’ve got this tower surrounded, and we’ve got your back.