When we finally hit 5th Avenue, the scope of the march became clear. The chanting crowd stretched for blocks as far as the eye could see with no apparent end in sight. Unprepared tourists were caught by surprise as they stumbled out of department stores lining the avenue and made futile attempts to walk against the flow of marchers before ultimately joining in. Office denizens who were unlucky enough to be working on a Saturday afternoon looked out from glass high rises, some holding signs of their own to cheer on the protestors. Parents brought their young children and held them high above the crowds to catch a glimpse of what democracy looks like first hand. The city was united.
Trump Tower, the final destination of the march, sits on the corner of 56th St & 5th Ave. Since first becoming the Republican nominee for President, the NYPD and Secret Service have cordoned off the building (at tax payers’ expense) making it all but inaccessible to anyone without a proper appointment or credentials. When my section of the march finally arrived, we were met by a wall of police on 55th street, a block away from the tower. Some press were getting through and I managed to squeeze in with a few news photographers, but otherwise uniformed and plainclothes cops had completely shut down access in a roughly 300 foot radius around the building.
I didn’t see any riot gear, but tensions seemed high as wave after wave of protestors were deflected by the barricades and rerouted West towards 6th Ave. Bomb-sniffing dogs circled our feet and police were shouting instructions through a megaphone, but thankfully all remained peaceful. It would have been nice for the march to reach the base of the tower where everyone was hoping to direct their outrage, but by the end of the day it was obvious that our message had been heard around the world.
As the crowd began to thin out on 6th Ave., I received a Facebook notification that the organizers had updated the official end point of the march to the lower end of Central Park a few blocks north of where we were. By then I was absolutely freezing and pretty exhausted, though, so decided to pack it in and head home to Brooklyn. I read news reports on the way of crowd size estimates from all across the country and even cities overseas, and the global sense of unity was humbling.
We can’t lose sight of the fact that the battle is just beginning, but we can celebrate that on this day Trump and his cronies realized they would not be able to push forth their agenda unopposed. Human rights are not up for grabs.