In the midst of Midtown Manhattan’s Wednesday morning rush hour, a multiracial group of women dressed in all black gathered in front of Trump Tower to denounce both Donald Trump and the Republican Party itself for their misogynistic comments and policies. The protest also called for the GOP to officially un-endorse Trump less than a week after the release of a 2005 tape of the presidential candidate bragging about his ability to sexually assault women because of his fame and stature. Although a number of GOP members recently announced their un-endorsement of Trump, RNC Chair Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan have yet to do so.
At 8 AM, the group of women began chanting the lines, “Trump thinks he runs this town, pussy came to shut it down!” and, “Back up, back up! We want freedom, freedom! Tell the sexist GOP we don’t need ‘em, need ‘em!” in between chats with the media. Many held up cleverly-phrased signs which included “No Cunt-try for Old Men” and “GOP Hands Off Me!” as the crowd marched from Trump Tower to the Apple Store on Fifth Ave.
Nadya Stevens, an organizer of the protest, said the protest was organized over the course of two days via emails and phone calls with women who work in social justice. However, upon looking at the protest’s turnout, Stevens saw many faces she had never seen before.
“That just shows you how his message has been so offensive to so many people that he’s crossed all lines with age and race and nationality,” Stevens said. “Everyone’s been offended by this man so we wanted to get women together to fight back against him.”
Stevens said the protest aimed to bring women of color together because of how public discourse on sexual assault often ignores them.
“I think the main thing is that we reject Donald Trump in his totality. It’s not just his past comments, or his lewd language, it’s about sexual assault,” Stevens said. “Once he started talking about white women, then people got mad. So we wanted to show that the timing is curious, but we wanted to show that this is not just about white women. This is about all women. That it’s unacceptable.”
Yong Jung Cho, another protest organizer who co-founded the progressive millennial advocacy group #AllOfUs2016 after serving as a campaign coordinator for the environmental group 350 Action, also raised concerns over the GOP reaching a boiling point with Trump only after a white woman got caught in the crossfire.
“It’s no surprise—the Republican Party needs white women voters. They might not care about any people of color, but they will not lose white women,” said Cho, who was named by Fusion as one of The 30, a group of women under 30 working to affect the election. “And that’s why it’s so important today for a multiracial group of women to talk about racism and sexism and xenophobia at the same time and say, ‘None of this is acceptable and we’ll all work together to fight that.’”
The feminist sentiment of “the personal is political” rang true for women who came to protest. Judi Gardner, a former New York delegate for Bernie Sanders who now supports Hillary Clinton, participated because of the “rhetoric that has been going on with the GOP for too long.”
“I’m almost 70 years old, I was around before Roe v. Wade, I saw my friend get an illegal abortion and nearly die—this is not how we treat women in this country. Women should have control over their own bodies,” Gardner said.
Protester Jane Pool showed up with her 11-year-old daughter, Lily, to stand up against the messages Trump’s comments send to young women.
Lily “tells me, ‘Donald Trump says you can’t be a 10 if you’re flat-chested.’ And I’m thinking this is not what I want my 11-year-old to be learning when she’s supposedly doing what she should be doing and educating herself about the [political] process in this country,” Pool said.
The protest’s message resonated even with JoAnn Santana, a sister of one of the falsely accused Central Park Five suspects Trump launched a smear campaign against. Santana found out about the protest on NY1 shortly before it began, and felt compelled to attend as “a woman against violence on women.”
“I think that Trump won’t apologize for his comments because he has a bitter heart,” Santana said.
As the protest ended around 8:45 AM in front of the Apple Store, Santana gazed in the direction of Central Park right across the street.
When Trump reiterated his smear of the Central Park Five as guilty, “it brought me back to 1989,” Santana said as tears filled her eyes. “Trump’s comments on the Central Park Five felt like an attack against my family and the justice system. There’s just so much negativity, hate and confusion throughout his campaign, and there’s a lot that needs to change.”