Tensions had been building prior to the election as racist sentiments fueled president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric. A protest assembled outside of Trump International Hotel & Tower on Nov. 9, the day after the election. It comes as no surprise since it seemed likely that protests would form regardless of who was victorious.
Activists for various groups were in attendance. People paraded Mexican flags through the streets of Manhattan while some participants soaked the U.S. flag in gasoline. Members of the LGBT community waved their iconic rainbow banners while anti-Trump protesters raised signs reading: “Not My President.”
“During this time, people were organizing across the country and planning protests aimed at giving those who had experienced disenfranchised grief a voice,” said Latchmi Gopal, an advocate for the rights of women of color.
What was expected to be a gathering of around 50 people ballooned to over 500 just an hour after assembly. Union Square saw a larger assembly of protesters gathering with similar sentiments. The NYPD’s Strategic Response Group mobilized with hundreds of officers doing their part to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers. As the group of protesters headed toward Trump International Hotel & Tower and marched down Broadway, police officers directed traffic while bystanders stood in awe. The two groups converged in Times Square and headed back up to Columbus Circle.
Fear took the protest hostage and the underlying messages became muddled. Themes that divided the United States throughout this election reflected many protesters’ need to raise awareness and combat this nation’s underlying homophobia, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. Many immigrants, members of the LGBT community, people of color and women are afraid and feel isolated as a result of the election.
As clocks approached midnight, the NYPD determined that it was necessary to unleash its Long Range Acoustic Device on protesters. LRAD is used as a non-lethal means of crowd control and is more commonly known as a sonic weapon. By the end of the night, reports on social media platforms indicated that many protesters were taken into custody.
Throughout the country, similar protests were taking place in unison as organizers reached out to one another through various social media platforms. After the results were released in the early hours of Nov. 9, “We realized that we had 72 hours to organize and assemble ourselves to ensure our voices would not be silenced,” said Gopal.
By using various social media outlets, organizers were able to reach out to a larger group of people and raise awareness rapidly.
In the days following the protest, many people took to social media to air their grievances and opinions as indicated by an increase in posts on Facebook and Twitter. Students at college campuses protested by refusing to attend class and instead created “safe spaces” to collectively grieve. Counseling services were offered at Baruch College as well as at many other colleges to help those having difficulty coping with the results.
This election was truly the tipping point for groups of people who have felt fragmented in modern society. The vast majority of protesters on the streets were either anti-Trump or advocating for social issues, but a completely separate protest had taken place the day prior. That protest was the voice of millions of U.S. citizens who voted for Donald Trump not in support of his rhetoric, but rather in rebellion against a system which they blame for their economic situation.
CUNY professor Dr. Hill Krishnan posted a great video in which talks about the steps that U.S. citizens need to take to move forward from the results of this election. In his video he talks about education, engagement and empathy, three qualities he terms “The Three E’s.” These qualities are intended to function as a way to bridge the divide and heal the fractured nation. This election was truly the tipping point for groups of people who have felt fragmented in modern society.
The post-election protests appear to be unrelenting—there are rallies planned well into Trump’s presidency. However, without a clear objective, it is uncertain how long these protests will last and in what capacity they will endure.
The thousands of protesters who assembled in Union Square the day after the election have since been replaced by a very different presence. Inspirational sticky-notes with words of support now line the subway station walls. It acts as a simple reminder for anyone who feels isolated in the aftermath of the election. It makes people feel as if they are not alone.