Activism

What It's Like to Protest Trump Nearly 7 Months After His Disastrous Presidency Began

Thousands converge on the streets of New York City to demonstrate their disapproval of the president.

Photo Credit: Ilana Novick

Veronica hadn’t attended a protest or rally since Donald Trump was elected president. That changed on August 14, after the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville the previous weekend, and when Trump returned to his home in New York City after nearly seven months away.

She arrived at a march organized by Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and an anti-Trump group called Rise and Resist carrying a sign with “No Hate, No War,” written in block letters, standing as straight and proud as the stone lions on the steps of the New York Public Library where the protest began. “After what happened in Charlottesville, I couldn’t just watch it on TV,” Veronica explained. “I had to show up.”

(Photo by Ilana Novick)

Alexis, 25, was curious about the other attendees, wondering, “Who was going to come out, the faces I’d see. It’s interesting.” Considering what she's observed in her previous experience at other protests, she elaborated, “I didn’t expect to see so many black people.” She’d been attending anti-police brutality and anti-Trump events for the past two years, but found that a lot more white people were showing up to the latter. “To see other ethnic groups now showing their support for black people’s lives was surprising. Before, when black people were being killed, it was only black people I’d see at these rallies.”

Other attendees came simply for the emotional support. “I needed it for my soul,” said Colleen, 68. “I was here on January 21st when 400,000 of us showed up. We were in a period of deep mourning, and I think Charlottesville brought it all back home. I’m 68 years old; I’ve protested several wars. This is like Vietnam all over again.” 

(Photo by Ilana Novick)

Veronica, Alexis and Colleen were just three of the thousands of attendees of multiple marches converging on Trump Tower and Trump Organization-owned buildings to the west, near Central Park. They shut down 5th Avenue from 53rd to 59th Streets, and slowed traffic a block west. Marchers chanted "Black Lives Matter," "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA," as they walked, with a chorus of car horns and cheers from people leaving their office buildings in the business-heavy district of midtown Manhattan. At a corner near Radio City Music Hall, a man set up a drum kit, a one-person band of protest music. 

(Photo by Ilana Novick)

Trump arrived by helicopter around 9pm, according to the New York Times, but protesters had surrounded his home for hours beforehand. As they dispersed, one man shouted, "We'll be back." 

Many of them were back Tuesday afternoon for the New York edition of a national push to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows qualifying immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to avoid deportation. A coalition of organizations including United We Dream and Indivisible, are holding rallies around the country Tuesday to demand that Congress protect and extend the program. It remains under attack from 10 state attorneys general who sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding he end the program or face a lawsuit. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill renewing the DREAM Act, which created the program, but it has yet to be taken up by the Senate. Over 8,000 Americans are in danger of deportation if Sessions agrees to their demands. 

On the fifth anniversary of the program's creation, organizers and DACA recipients spoke out in front of the White House Tuesday afternoon. In New York, they'll be back near Trump Tower Tuesday evening. Those interested can visit DefendDACA.com to find a local event. 

For those who can't attend a rally, advocates are encouraging DACA supporters to call their senators and ask that they co-sponsor the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act (S. 1615). They can also call their House reps and ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s American Hope Act (H.R. 3591) to, as Indivisible explains, "give those with DACA and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship."  

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

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