Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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‘We Reject the President-Elect,’|NYC Howls Up to Trump Tower

MANHATTAN (CN) — Spilling onto the streets by the tens of thousands Wednesday night, New Yorkers descended upon Trump Tower, snarling traffic, hanging the president-elect in effigy, waving a blackened American flag in front of his home and chanting, "Donald, you're fired!"

Only hours had passed since the Electoral College hired Trump in the early morning, though the Republican tycoon lost by wide margins in his hometown.

The protesters would not let him forget that he also lost the raw vote tallies by a sliver.

Throughout the evening, one popular chant went, simply, "Popular vote!"

Snaking around cars, buses, pedicabs and taxicabs across the city's narrow streets and wide avenues, the peaceful demonstration stretched for several blocks, beginning at Union Square and ending at the Trump Tower, a Midtown skyscraper close to the southeast end of Central Park.

One cab driver gave high fives to protesters as they passed by his stalled car. Tourists on double-decker buses took out their iPhones to record the spectacle, and people in houses and office buildings filed to their windows to observe and sometimes cheer along the procession.

Kay, a pedicab driver wearing a knit NYPD hat, also congratulated activists as they passed.

"I'm a Muslim," he said. "He's not my president."

Along the way, the march passed Herald Square, the New York Public Library and Rockefeller Center, and it skewered broad swaths of Trump's campaign platform and scandals.

The protesters denounced Trump's plans to build a wall on the Mexican border and temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States. They also roasted his vice president Mike Pence and his key ally Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor.

One contingent turned a mock-Gadsden flag — a revolutionary icon appropriated by the tea party — into a feminist howl, with the slogan "War on Women" over the coiled snake and "Don't Grab My Pussy" below it.

Leaked footage of Trump bragging about sexual assault as a benefit of his celebrity nearly sidelined his campaign.

One chant "Pussy Grabs Back," showed the controversy will continue to dog him into the Oval Office.

John Gingenio, a senior at SUNY New Paltz studying filmmaking, called the protest the most intense he had seen in New York.

"We need this every week," he shouted. "We need to make our voices known. This is our turnaround. This is our time to change. We can't allow this to die down."

For the politicians at least, one of the most bitter presidential elections in U.S. history ended in a peaceful accord. Trump had spent much of his campaign vowing to jail his opponent Hillary Clinton, and he whipped up his crowds at rallies into chants of "Lock her up!"

In an about-face that induced whiplash moments after attaining victory, however, Trump told supporters at his victory speech that they owe Clinton a "major debt of gratitude."

Clinton's rhetorical shift had been no less stunning, shifting quickly from characterizing her opponent as a serial sexual assailant, a rapacious robber baron, and an enemy of democracy, to wishing him success in the Oval Office.

"Donald Trump is going to be our president," she said. "We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead."

For Gingenio, the college student, neither of the political parties can be trusted.

"America's politicians, America's political system, and the oligarchy that we have needs to be defeated," he said. "We need to have a real referendum, a real revolution, that will change the state of this country. We had two horrible choices for president, and we elected the worst possible choice. We must fight back!"

Among the protesters, contrasts between those who believed Clinton would make a good president and a more radical contingent could be heard in the slogans and seen in the signs.

Before the march began, Clinton's slogan "Love Trumps Hate" drowned out a more combatitive: "Who do we hate? Donald Trump."

In front of Trump's 58-story tower at 750 Fifth Avenue, the red flags of Socialist Alternative — one of the organizers — waved at either side of a handwritten sign quoting a passage of Clinton's concession.

It read: "To all the little girls watching right now, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance in the world."

Chris R., a 37-year-old graphic designer, said he marched to send a symbol to other countries.

"I think the whole world looks up to the U.S., and I think it's important to get out and they see another side of us — that there's a lot of people in this country that are unhappy with Donald Trump being our president," he said. "So, I think all around the world people need to see that, and I hope they do."

There were few confrontations between protesters and police, but some worried that a Trump administration may not be so respectful of the First Amendment.

One voicing concerns was Tina, a New York University student.

"I don't think he's going to handle it well," she said. "I don't know what he's going to do."

The New York City Police Department reported that, of the many thousands marching that night, only about 65 received summonses, mostly for minor offenses like disorderly conduct.

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