Mourning in New York reporter Nick Baker checks out how the Big Apple is reacting to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the US presidential election
The simple epitaph held by a lone man on Fifth Avenue sums up how many in New York are feeling after last week’s shock election result.
Only 19 percent of America’s largest city voted for Republican candidate Donald Trump. And it shows. Residents are publically, viscerally experiencing various stages of grief.
“It could all be a dream,” a subway passenger yelled out during rush hour in the days that followed. The gallows humour gave the carriage a quick laugh before most commuters went back to staring blankly into the middle distance.
Cafes uptown and downtown were initially thick with denial as New Yorkers tried to grapple with what seemed like “the impossible” to one patron and “the apocalypse” to another.
Strangers from different walks of life struck up conversations in coffee queues about what the result actually means. For Obamacare? For the Supreme Court? For the Iran nuclear deal? For the country’s climate change agenda?
As reality started to sink in, Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan became a focal point for demonstration – and some celebration.
Perhaps the most confronting scene outside the 58-storey skyscraper on November 10 was one young woman who stood in the rain as she tried to burn, but then settled for ripping up, an American flag.
A sea of placards at the site expressed disbelief (“AHHHHHHHH”), outrage (“You’re not my president”), regret (“We’re better than this”) and combativeness (“We are not resigned”).
Business was booming for a young woman, herself in tears, with a “free hugs” sign as passers-by stopped for long, intense embraces.
“I’ve never felt more terrified in my life,” said first generation Mexi- can-American Samantha KudernaReeves who had come to demonstrate. “I’m afraid about what’s going to happen to my family now.”
The feeling of fear was echoed by fellow protester India Derewetzky: “It looks like America now thinks that hatred and xenophobia and racism and sexism are the ways that this country should base all its decisions on. That’s genuinely frightening.”
Republicans who also gathered at Trump Tower understandably had a different interpretation.
“I feel great,” said a Trump voter who asked to be only identified as Jordan. “Make American great again. We’re back!”
Jordan credited the Republican win to “a lot of policies from the last administration that were detrimental to job growth”.
The main item on his Trump policy wish list was “seeing the repeal of NAFTA and other multilateral trade agreements” which will “incentivise production here in the US and make the manufacturing base come back”.
Another Trump supporter – “Jonathan, proudly born and raised in the Bronx, New York City” – said he looked forward to results from the new president on day one.
“I expect him to be held accountable for doing the things that he said … such as bringing down the corporate tax rate … and getting a handle on immigration,” he said.
It was not long before the two rival groups at Trump Tower started bickering, then arguing, then noholds-barred shouting.
“You’re racists,” said the antiTrumps. “Bill Clinton is a rapist,” responded the anti-Clintons.
When pushed, the two groups did agree on one, despondent thing – that this clash was symptomatic of exactly what to expect over the next four years.
Gradually, more organised protests against the result were held in parks and other large public places across the city.
Union Square – an ironic choice for a historically disunited America – has played host to a series of particularly fiery protests since November 8. Thousands of attendees have gathered there for several nights already calling for a Trump impeachment. And worse.
“Trump makes America hate, Trump makes America hate, Trump makes America hate,” rang out again and again.
But one small placard in Union Square held by a smiling middleaged man sounded a note of optimism: “Good will prevail.” It remains to be seen how much optimism will linger after January 20, 2017 – the first day of President Trump.
A protester tries to burn an American flag outside Trump Tower.
Thousands of protesters converge on Trump Tower.
Anti-Trump signs have appeared around New York.