Pedestrian traffic was at a standstill Thursday evening around 6 p.m. outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, where some 50 protesters formed a “Wall of Women” in front of the presidential candidate’s Fifth Avenue headquarters.
There were several men, too—and babies and children—most of them chanting and holding signs bearing feminist slogans like “Vote Pro Choice,” “Pussy Is Power,” “Nasty Woman,” and “No Cunt-Try for Old Men.”
It has become a familiar scene outside Trump’s iconic Midtown skyscraper. After the Republican candidate’s now-infamous 2005 tape advising Billy Bush to grab women “by the pussy” was leaked, Trump Tower has played host to several protests focusing on his lewd and predatory behavior toward women.
In early October, a group of women stormed the tower brandishing “Pussy Grabs Back” posters and chanting “GOP, Hands Off Me!” (the protest was recreated at Trump Tower in Chicago, too). A week later, more women converged at the site, including New York’s public advocate, Letitia James; Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women; and Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Thursday night’s demonstration, organized by the ad hoc #GOPHandsOffMe movement, drew a boisterous crowd focused largely on what attendees see as Trump’s sexist, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric.
With a baby strapped to her chest, organizer Jodeen Olguín-Tayler led her cadre in a catchy chant: “Back up, back up! We want freedom, freedom! Tell the racist GOP that we don’t need ’em, need ’em!”
Women of all ages and ethnicities hoisted cardboard shovels like pitchforks (the shovels, the press material helpfully explained, were meant to “illustrate their power to bury and defeat” Trump in the election) and feminist riffs on the Gadsden flag (yellow posters featuring a feral cat and the words “Don’t Grab On Me” or “Don’t Tread on My Pussy”).
As with previous protests, the hissing feline was a recurring motif on buttons and T-shirts. A 6-foot-long cat puppet took center stage, with several women wriggling beneath it, like a feminist version of the Chinese parade dragon.
“Our work does not start or end at the ballot box!” shouted Olguín-Tayler, plugging the baby on her chest with a pacifier. “We are not doing all of this just to get one woman a new job!”
When asked about Trump’s recent surge in the polls and what the movement planned to do if he was elected, Olguín-Tayler said the activists would be “ready to move forward with our agenda.” Asked if she thought a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a victory for feminism, she hesitated: “We’re definitely doing our get-out-the-vote work to make sure Trump loses. So it’s important that Hillary win this election, but what we’re really working for is intersectional feminism and more power for all of us.”
Later, she explained that the baby was her nephew. “We believe that we’re building a country for our children and a country where we can be safe from sexual and economic violence,” she said.
Two passers-by scowled at the demonstrators’ use of children as “props,” but 39-year-old Daniella Crespo, a legal services attorney who was there with her 9-year-old niece and 7-year-old nephew, argued that it was important for children to attend.
When asked what he thought of a potential President Trump, the 7-year-old replied: “I really have no idea! My parents hate him, so…” Clarifying the boy’s statement, his aunt interjected, “But you really don’t like him!” He nodded and smiled.
But like many rally participants, Crespo was lukewarm on Clinton. “A year ago I never would have considered a Hillary Clinton win a victory for feminism,” she said. “But my standards have lowered because one of them is going to be president. Hillary is the miserable status quo, but Trump is the immediate catastrophe.”
As ever, a motley mix of Trump supporters showed up, competing for attention—and many of them were immigrants. The small klatch of Make America Greaters included a petite Indian man wearing a navy suit and large purple headphones who pranced and chanted, “Vote for Trump! Vote for Trump!” Beside him was Martia, 40, a freelance fashion photographer from Italy and “legal immigrant” who moved to New York nine years ago and who said she was confident in—and excited about—a Trump victory next Tuesday. Next to her, a Romanian woman explained that she was a medium for George Washington’s ghost and that Trump was the first president’s true heir.
But The Donald’s supporters were drowned out—and mostly ignored—by the Wall of Women, who dutifully played to the assembled media.
After next Tuesday, the committed anti-Trump protesters—and the hordes of peeved Fifth Avenue shoppers, weaving through the demonstration—hope never to come back to Trump Tower.
If Clinton wins, Trump will slither back to his career as a reality-television host, beauty-contest mogul, and failing businessman, but #GOPHandsOffMe organizer Olguín-Tayler said the fight won’t be over.
“After the election, we’ll be ready to move our pro-women, pro-immigrants, anti-Islamophobia vision, and that includes a vision for black lives and an end to rape culture,” she said. “We’re ready to stand united as sisters, mothers, granddaughters, and aunties and to bury the racist, sexist politics of the GOP.”