A baby-sized effigy of president-elect Donald Trump dangled from a pole, its yellow hair catching the wind, as thousands of protesters packed the streets around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue about 24 hours after it became clear the real estate mogul had pulled off a stunning electoral upset.
The crowd chanted slogans in a drizzling rain that echoed between the skyscrapers.
A group of protesters had made their way from Columbus Circle and through Times Square until they merged with another group of demonstrators who had marched from Union Square. At Columbus Circle, Georgina Simon, 23, of Harlem, had stood on a platform and started chanting “The whole world is watching,” which was answered by the hundreds packing the plaza. Simon said she felt broken as she watched election results come in Tuesday night. She spent the next day crying, thinking and hugging her partner, she said.
“Every action we do is going to have some sort of reaction, whether it’s here or not, and I think it’s important to remember that there are people abroad who are rooting for us, and who are also scared for us, and who support us,” Simon said.
Next to her, Althea Matthews, 58, also of Harlem, said she hoped Trump would tone down his bluster now that he’s been elected. “I’m hoping that he was saying all these things just to get attention, and hoping that he has a better soul,” she said. “When people are navigating through all that negativity, that’s dangerous.”
Nearby, three men held large white signs reading “Serial Liar” and “Birther.”
Anthony Chan, 35, a Manhattan resident, said he’s living in the U.S. on a green card and couldn’t vote, but nevertheless felt a deep disappointment at Trump’s election. “I felt like I could in some way help mobilize my friends,” he said.
Chan said he liked Hillary Clinton even though he thought she had flaws, but thought much of the public criticisms of her were divorced from reality.
Stephen Boehmke, 36, of Chelsea, was also frustrated. "Regardless of what you think about Hillary, it came down to a decision that was really simple: You were either choosing crazy or not crazy, and apparently there are a lot more people in this country who are comfortable with crazy than I thought,” he said.
Blaine Rueber, 29, of Manhattan, wanted to make a statement immediately after the election. “I feel like any form of protest right now is so important because the message we just sent globally needs to be counteracted a little bit,” he said. “I mean they know what the popular vote was, but I think they need to hear that our voices are — I don’t know — loud.”
The chants got louder as the first group approached Times Square. Bystanders filmed with their phones along the sidewalks. One man walked into the march’s path, walking backwards with his middle fingers in the air, shouting, “You lost!”
A Times Square Minnie Mouse danced alongside the protesters as they passed. Several other costumed superheroes pumped their fists in rhythm with the chants.
Jare’d Goodloe, 29, of Brooklyn, chanted loudly as he marched. “I got to stand for something, man,” he said. “As a black man, I stand for all equal rights for anybody, no matter age, sex, gender orientation, nothing.”
Earlier, as the demonstrators gathered, a quieter scene took place in a tunnel connecting subway lines at the Union Square station. Rush-hour commuters paused to look at a wall covered with hundreds of Post-its. A sign on a small table below had “Subway Therapy” written on it.
The display’s creator, a Brooklyn man who gave his name as Levee, said he usually sits at the spot and invites passersby to sit and talk about anything that’s troubling them. The day after the election, he brought Post-its and pens so that people could express themselves, he said. “It’s been emotional for me because I’ve seen people crying and I don’t want to make people upset,” he said, “but I also think that that release is good — to get it out.”