By Zoisa Fraser in New York
Hundreds of angry young people congregated in front of Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday night to protest the election of Donald Trump as the new US president, forcing dozens of policemen to descend on the area with barricades to ensure there was peace and order and raising fears of unrest in the coming days.
A helicopter hovered overhead to monitor to the protest which continued into the wee hours of Thursday. When this newspaper left the area close to midnight the crowd appeared to be growing.
The only report of violence reaching Stabroek News was about a bottle lobbed by an angry protester hitting a policeman. Reports are that over a dozen persons were arrested by police throughout the night.
Stabroek News which has a representative on an elections tour organized by the US Department of State was told that the protest would continue over the next few days. There were similar protests in other cities including Chicago and Los Angeles.
The protest action started in Union Square during the early afternoon hours some 40 blocks away from Trump Tower. As nightfall came, the gathering, many of whom were holding placards marched down to Trump Tower.
When this newspaper arrived at the scene it was chaotic. Police had blocked off several streets resulting in a traffic nightmare. The protesters made lewd comments about Trump and held up matching placards. Two protesters managed to climb to the top of a street light. They chanted and shouted.
Despite polls in the last few weeks having had Hillary Clinton in the lead, Trump emerged victorious, sending shockwaves throughout the US and the world. While Clinton has conceded defeat and called for Trump to be given a chance to lead, his unexpected win has angered her supporters
“I am here because I think it’s just crazy that he became president. It makes no sense”, Zania Ahava said adding that it may seem that little can be done at this stage. She said that Trump as a president has set the country back 50 years.
“We may have come far in quotation marks but we haven’t come that far and he as president has set us back so many years”, Ahava said, noting that some of the things he plans to do is particularly troubling. “A ban on Muslims (entering the country), build a wall (on the Mexican border) …”, she said. She along with her friend responded to a Facebook post and journeyed to the location. She was there for more than an hour before speaking to Stabroek News. Asked how long she planned to stay, she responded “as long as it takes”. Ahava said she concluded that the police were trying to remove them from the area but she made it clear that they would stand resolute.
Yonita Friedman expressed the view that the election was rigged. “One thing that I think is important in that this presidential election was the first…since the 1965 voting rights act was gutted. You wanna tell me about a rigged elections, this elections was rigged because the Republican Party did everything in its power to keep people of colour from voting”, she said.
Another protestor Amanda said that she is disappointed and upset that Trump will take office as she believes that he is a violator of human rights. She told journalists that “I am doing everything I can to make my voice heard…” Amanda said that she like many of the protesters want to ensure that their concerns are registered and are not going to be forgotten during Trump’s four years in office. She said that her reason for joining the protest is not to overthrow the government but to fight for the protection of human rights and migrants. She said that if they don’t fight now, she is afraid of what may happen during the next four years.
Amanda joined the protest action at Union Square around 5:30 pm.
Lawrence Dreyfuss said that he joined the protest to show minorities that they are not alone and that love exist for them regardless of their religion, skin colour or where they are from.
The artist said that he was with the protest for about two hours and planned to remain “until love wins”. Dreyfuss expressed hope that the protest action will continue until the country “finds unity and peace for everyone”. He said that he was not intimidated by the heavy police presence and he noted that as long as they stood together that they are “bigger” than the police. He said that he became aware of the protest through social media.
According to Krista Caproni, Trump “has absolutely no business being anywhere in public…I am not for it (and) no one here is for it. I don’t know many people who would stand for his bull&$%t and longer. He is not even in office and you can already see the passion in everybody”.
She said that she is saddened and disappointed that the country could have voted for Trump and made him president. She added that object of the protest is just to come together and show in a peaceful way that his election is not right and not what they wanted.
She said that she was outside Trump Tower for several hours and planned to stay a few more.
Clinton won the state of New York as expected. A taxi driver who migrated from Kenya five years ago said he agreed with the win. Though he did not vote – because he is not a citizen- he believes that Trump’s business background would be beneficial to the country and that he should be given the chance to lead. Another New Yorker, who is also an immigrant said that he was a Clinton supporter and was not in support of a Trump win.
*(Stabroek News is one of two Caribbean media houses chosen to participate in the US Election Tour organised by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Centre.)