This past Sunday, a band of protesters staged a "cough-in" at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. Not a sit-in, but yes, a riotous round of vigorous coughing. Here's why.
The protest—which could have been mistaken for an overly enthusiastic amateur improv group, were it not for the accompanying signage and chants—was aimed squarely at President-elect Donald Trump, who is at the helm of the pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but those most immediately affected by the cough-in were the staff and patrons of Jean-Georges, the flagship restaurant of Michelin-starred French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and its sister restaurant, Nougatine.
Mark Milano, who helped organise the event on Facebook, said that the protest was meant to bring attention to health care reform, and so about 20 members of "anti-Trump" activist group Rise & Resist made brunch reservations at the swanky restaurant on Sunday before unleashing a torrent of coughing in the dining room.
"Join Rise & Resist at 1 Central Park West on the park side of the hotel for a protest to tell Trump, Ryan and Price to not destroy our healthcare!" the event page said. "Bring your healthcare-related signs and your passion! Bring a friend!"
Group members certainly heeded this call to action, as protest signs and passionate coughs were ample, as was the turnout, according to those who were present.
"At 12:20 we coughed our addled brains out, then pulled out our signs declaring, 'We need ObamaCare. TrumpCare makes us sick.' and shouted those slogans over and over at top volume as we were escorted out," one protester wrote. "As you can see, the upscale diners took notice."
The protest was unlikely to change the views of patrons, who can afford a $100 tasting menu in a dining room that was once the backdrop of a Trump-Romney dinner date, but the stunt did garner national headlines.
Like any great performance, the significance of the mass coughing can be interpreted in several different ways, but presumably, protesters were mimicking the millions of people, including many restaurant workers who rely on the ACA, who could go untreated under the Republican party's re-tooled health insurance plan—if and when one materialises. Or, perhaps they were acting out how they are "sickened" by the repeal, as their "Trumpcare makes us sick" signs would suggest.
"Tens of thousands" of protesters are expected to descend upon the capital for Trump's inauguration this weekend, and many more protest events are expected across the country; Trump-owned or -licensed properties will likely continue to be targeted.
Here's a list of planned protests, in case you've got some time to kill and have something in your throat that you want to get out.