By LINDA KRESTANOVA
When Rachel Cohen reached the Trump Tower on Thursday afternoon, sign in hand, she’d already been quietly protesting for hours throughout the city. Reactions to her “We Won’t Go Back” written message, however, were not as quiet.
“I have been actually physically assaulted by men,” said Cohen, a protester against President-elect Donald Trump. “There was a man two blocks away who tripped me, physically big man.” She added that numerous verbal attacks aimed at her included being told to “Go back home, it’s where you belong.”
The response to her sign, Cohen said, “made me lift it higher.” She said she planned to carry it around the city everywhere she goes. Her message, which included the words “#BlackLivesMatter” and “love trumps hate,” means progress on equality has made should not be reversed.
On the second afternoon after Trump won the presidential election, the gathering of pedestrians around the Tower was at times impassable. Yet only a few protesters could be seen. There were at most five signs held up at once, and chanting erupted only when the infamous Naked Cowboy arrived.
Donning Trump-themed underwear and playing his guitar, adorned with a Trump-Pence sticker, he sang a song about making America great again. Protestors drowned out his voice by loudly repeating, “We won’t go back!”
When a number of people yelled expletives at him, the cowboy smiled and said, “I annoy people for a living.”
After the previous two days’ protests, which included a solo demonstration by Lady Gaga, security around the building was strong. Although the tower remained open to the public during the day, there were seven policemen at the entrance and every visitor was required to put his or her bag through a security check. Car traffic surrounding the building, especially on Fifth Avenue, was sluggish, and pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk across from the tower was equally difficult.
“This is worse than Christmas!” one passer-by shouted as she made her way through the crowd. All around were people taking photos and selfies of the scene. Police officers steered crowds in both directions, asking them to “move it along.” Broadcast journalists, barricaded off the sidewalk, sat by their equipment awaiting action as Trump was at the White House with President Obama.
Some people were there to support the protesters and vent their own frustration.
“As long as we can get on the streets with signs and march, it means something,” said one man, who asked to be called “a concerned citizen.” He said he feared that the “maniac” Trump was going to “transform the U.S. into a fascist state.”
“This man has been bending the rules for 70 years of his life and he’s been getting away with it,” he said. “I wouldn’t support him if I was his underwear.”
Photo by Linda Krestanova