Travel

New York's Anti-Trump Rally Started Loud and Ended Louder

by Jackson Krule
Mar 20 2016, 5:00pm

All photos by the author

A mass of New Yorkers gathered in Columbus Circle near the southwest corner of Central Park yesterday at noon to collectively share their contempt for Donald Trump, the man who may very well become the first Republican presidential nominee to have previously branded both steak and cologne.

With hundreds of participants in attendance, the Rally Against Donald Trump featured a diverse range of age groups, ethnicities, and rallying points against the presidential candidate. And, much like Trump himself, the spectacle started loud and ended louder.

What began as a messy amoeba of anti-Trump attendees gathering into clusters to deliver speeches, chant stuff like "Fuck Trump," and hold signs riffing off recent Trump talking points ("American Needs Bigger Hands," "Let's Build a Wall to Keep Trump Out," etc.), ended with several New Yorkers getting arrested and even pepper sprayed by police right near the buildings bearing Trump's name.

At around 2 PM, a handful of Trump supporters stood with Trump International Hotel as their backdrop just off Central Park West. A few police officers stood between them and their rivals as they chanted "Build the Wall!"

As more rally-goers began to hear these Trumpers, they swarmed the scene. Curses were thrown, accusations of racism were made, and birds were flipped. Eventually the police escorted the pro-Trump crowd away for their own safety. From there, the protest marched briefly through Central Park toward the Trump Tower at the corner of 56th Street and 5th Avenue.

Once the swarm of people were halfway across the width of the park, the crowd tried to walk back to 59th Street through the middle of the street where they were met by a large police presence on vespas and on foot.

Though unclear who provoked whom, things quickly escalated as protesters and police began pushing each other, and soon officers began arresting people and spraying others with pepper spray.

Almost immediately after the use of force, the energy of the protest changed dramatically. The attitude shifted from distinct groups of people making fun of and criticizing Trump, to a concentrated mass all chanting against the police.

Starting at 5th Avenue, protesters began to sprint toward Madison Avenue, some even crossing through the middle of oncoming traffic. It felt a little bit like the crowd was running away from a giant wave instead of surging toward a shared goal.

A swarm of police officers met demonstrators at the corner on 58th and Madison, and swiftly arrested a dark-skinned man and then a caucasian photographer—the latter of whom the cops pinned aggressively against a taxi cab that had a fare in it.

Soon, myself and others were herded away from the scene. It seemed that the police were trying to make an example and scare the rest of the crowd heading toward us.

As Trump protesters reached the other Trump building on 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, the police were waiting with systemic blockades, preventing protesters from entering the streets.

A large group of Trump protesters continued to chant, while another pocket of demonstrators began feuding with a small group of Trump supporters. Moments later, a black man walked by me with a little boy no older than six. I overheard him say, "Son, these are the racist white people you'll have to fight when you get older."

Visit Jackson's website and Instagram for more of his photo work.