A march of what organizers said was 15,000 people on Sunday began and ended at President-Elect Donald Trump’s Columbus Circle property and struck an upbeat if combative tone as marchers assailed the Republican’s policies, especially those aimed at immigrants.
Organized by Make the Road affiliates in four states, the march struck several themes through chants and signs: that Black Lives Matter, and Muslim lives as well; that reproductive freedom will be under assault come January 20th; that climate change is real; and that the president-elect should denounce the hate groups that have celebrated his victory.
Donald Trump’s apparent loss in the popular vote was also a common theme: One marcher suggested that the Electoral College should exercise its authority to disregard what the voters have said in states Trump won. “Not my president” was a popular chant (as were “Your hands … too small … you’ll never build the wall” or simply “Shame!”).
But the potential deportation of millions of undocumented people was the overriding focus. Claudia, a Salvadoran immigrant from North Bergen, N.J., carried a sign extolling U.S. virtues of compassion and courage. Asked whether the election results challenge that reputation, she said, “America is founded on compassion and love, and with him in power, there is no hope.” So it’s hopeless? “This gives me hope,” she said, gesturing to the other marchers, “because I’m not alone.”
Vicente, who came from Ecuador in 1963, watched the demonstration from the other side of the barriers. He says he met Trump a few times years back when he worked at the Metropolitan Club, where Trump would throw the occasional party. “He was a nice man. I don’t know where all the hate comes from,” he said. After the election, Vicente said, “People are laughing at us around the world. Believe it or not. People are laughing at us.”
He doesn’t think, however, that things will be as bad under President Trump as the marchers think; that the demonstrations will force the new leader to moderate his policies. Vicente also believes President Obama did more than he’s given credit for. “He saved the banks, he saved the auto industry, he brought the troops home,” he said, “and the economy, it doesn’t look bad.”