when new york stormed trump tower
Jeremy Liebman photographed the thousands of demonstrators who gathered in New York to protest America’s new president-elect.
Michael Moore stood out in the crowd at New York's Union Square last night. Partly because he was wearing shorts in November and his luminous calves glistened in the dark and rain. Partly because he was well above the average age of the thousands of demonstrators who'd gathered there to march north to Trump Tower. Also: Moore was one of very few public figures who had predicted this would happen.
"The UK had their Brexit, and this was our Brexit," he told a group of onlookers huddled around him with their cell phones held out. "But Britain chose to leave the European Union; America decided to leave America." Then he raised his own phone to broadcast a Facebook Live stream of the tide of demonstrators rolling up Broadway. People punched the air with signs that read "Dump Trump" and "Black Lives Matter," or walked arm in arm or hand in hand. We chanted, "Pussy grabs back!", "Hey, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!", and "Not our President!"
"I just hope that people see this," Monica, a protester standing nearby, told me. "I hope the cable news networks are broadcasting this so they know it's not like 2004, it's not like 2000, we're not just going to forget. We're going to harness this outrage and the movement's going to keep going." Her boyfriend, Ben, added he was here to "make people feel not insane for feeling totally bereft."
North of Madison Square, the police — belts ringed with plastic handcuffs — tried to divert the stream, so the crowd moved across 30th Street to Broadway. Mid-stride and half-shouting, Elizabeth, 26, who had a neon green card sign and a nose ring, told me, "We won't stand for a racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic bigot in our White House, and just because he won the presidency, that doesn't mean we won't take the streets and fight back against everything that he stands for."
Like many people, she emphasised that this protest was just the beginning. "We'll be active from today until the day that he leaves the White House," she said.
At Herald Square, I watched a young man in a beanie and scuffed-up Stan Smith sneakers get pinned to the ground by policemen. "Nothing to see here!" they yelled to a wall of watching protesters and their recording iPhones. Meanwhile, a silver-haired lady with a blowout and a leopard-print raincoat was trying to ask an officer for directions to the nearest bus stop. An elderly couple in fur-collared coats pushed through the crowd muttering about "young people" like cartoon villains.
Further uptown, where storefronts were already shiny with Christmas decorations, Faith, 20, tried to put her fear into words. "I have a girlfriend and I'm scared that we won't have marriage equality in the next two years. That thought is absolutely terrifying. I have immigrant friends, I'm afraid their families could get taken away," she said. "Everything [Trump] stands for is something that the millennial generation is not for. We are the next leaders, we don't deserve this kind of future."
At 5th Avenue and 54th Street the crowd stopped marching. Trump Tower, just above 56th Street, was surrounded by police, and so we stood still and screamed and sang instead. A topless woman in a black ski mask had climbed midway up an orange-and-white manhole chimney that billowed steam. Her chest was smeared with red paint and she held her red palm in the air as the crowd chanted "Hey ho, sexual violence has got to go." Other people hung from scaffolding. A group of women, one carrying a "queer as in fuck you" sign, beat a drum and sang a song promising they wouldn't stop fighting until a "real revolution."
"He doesn't deserve to be the leader of our country, he doesn't represent our country. He's a piece of shit," said Alicia, who was leading chants with a megaphone. She added, though, that she wanted to amplify a message of "love." "America's united and America will push through this shitty fucking time and grow together," she said. "We won't be 'great again' but we'll be better tomorrow."
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Jeremy Liebman