More than 1,000 demonstrators swarmed Trump Tower on Sunday, yelling “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” as the president returned to his New York City home.
Trump’s Sunday visit to Trump Tower was his first since he was inaugurated. While activists planned protests as soon as the White House announced Trump’s return, the demonstrations were supercharged by Trump’s Saturday refusal to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Protesters also gathered outside the White House and hit the streets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
“Donald Trump thinks he can come to New York City,” Eva Sahana, a 22-year-old organizer with the group Refuse Fascism, told The Daily Beast. “We are here to demonstrate that he is unwelcome here, especially because right now he has blood all over his hands. The blood of Heather Heyer, the blood of everyone who was injured in Charlottesville yesterday.”
White supremacist James A. Field faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Heather Heyer after he drove a car into protesters. Charlottesville held a vigil for Heyer on Sunday evening.
Julie DeLaurier, 60, said Trump Tower felt like “the wicked witch’s castle.”
“We’re appalled by what happened in Charlottesville last night,” DeLaurier said. “We’re appalled by Trump’s lack of response to what happened in Charlottesville last night. Some reporters handed him a softball opportunity to condemn white supremacy and he chose to ignore them completely.”
Instead of explicitly condemning white supremacists on Saturday, Trump implied that counterprotesters on the left were also responsible for the violence in Charlottesville.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” he said.
Samuel Greenberg, 27, called it “false equivocating.”
“Alt-right, white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, they’re out here to uphold the racist framework of our society. We’re out here for our lives. We’re Jewish,” Greenberg said of himself and a friend. “Those people think we have a key role in the degeneration of Western society, of Western values. We’re here to fight for our lives and join in solidarity with other people in that same fight.”
But at least one New Yorker found himself inconvenienced by the protest.
“I was going to Tiffany’s,” Jim Walley said as police closed barricades around Trump Tower, where the jewelry store is located. “This is very disruptive.”
Trump supporters also found their way to the protest. Directly outside the tower, a man in a Make America Great Again hat got into a shouting match with an anti-Trump protester.
“Go home! Go home!” the man in the MAGA hat shouted, brandishing two miniature American flags.
His opponent, 54-year-old John Bonelli, said the confrontation began when the Trump supporter shouted a slur at him.
“I was just called a faggot by the guy in the red hat,” Bonelli said. “He told me to go back to Christopher Street. That’s the mentality of Trump people, hating on every group.”
Shanna Sobel, a 35-year-old Trump supporter, disputed Bonelli’s characterization.
“I believe in freedom of speech. I believe everyone has the right to protest, for sure,” Sobel said. “I just don’t believe people should do that,” she said, gesturing to a nearby man who was bellowing “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
Sobel was speaking to another reporter when DeLaurier and a fellow protester approached her.
“We have a serious question,” DeLaurier said. “Without attacking Clinton, can you defend Trump on what he’s done on health care?”
“He doesn’t have the support of the Republican Party behind him, but he’s been trying to repeal and replace,” Sobel said.
“With what?” DeLaurier said. “‘Something wonderful.’ ‘Something fantastic.’” DeLaurier said the Affordable Care Act was the reason “my son is alive.”
“For your son, as a person, I’m so happy he’s alive,” Sobel said.
“And we’re all people! Let’s please work together.”
They hugged, and walked off in different directions.