New York to Trump: Grab Him by the Midterms!


While our Nazi-coddling reality TV producer–in-chief marked his one-year anniversary as POTUS by shutting down the U.S. government (and ineffectively trolling protestors), New Yorkers took to the streets on Saturday to show our continued resistance on the anniversary of the single largest day of political protest in U.S. history.

New York’s massive turnout of 200,000 women’s marchers (along with 500,000 in Los Angeles, 300,000 in Chicago, 100,000 in San Francisco, and many thousands more in Washington, D.C; Austin, Texas; Denver; Philadelphia; Seattle; Oakland, California; St. Louis; Park City, Utah; Charlotte, North Carolina; and even Palm Beach, Florida, home to Mar-a-Lago) was tinged with women’s anger, humor, and resilience. “New York hates Trump, he was stuck to the bottom of our shoes first,” declared one sign, punctuated by a poop emoji. “Fuck you, you fucking fuck,” blared another.

Near the front of the march, the woman’s drumline FogoAzul NYC lent samba and reggae rhythms and an infectious energy, while white, Black, Latina, and Asian protestors shouted “Dump Trump!” to the beat as they passed Trump Tower. Women in wheelchairs participated alongside dancers. Men showed up in support of gender justice, holding babies on their shoulders. Children in Wonder Woman costumes and “Boys will be boys good humans” shirts carried posters announcing, “In 11 years I vote!” and “The future will be nonbinary,” while grandmothers in their eighties and nineties expressed disgust that they still had to be out in the streets advocating for reproductive justice, freedom from sexual violence, and equal pay. Young women marched for an intersectional platform, including gender and racial justice, trans rights, protection for immigrants, and an end to poverty and wealth inequality. A “Please note the lack of Nazis at our marches” sign made clear which side of history we were on.

Protesters’ experiences were heavily shaped by when they were able to arrive. The front and middle of the march were reportedly loud, boisterous, and full of life. The latter half was…less so. Folks who (like me) got screwed by the MTA and showed up only a half an hour early not only missed the rally, we ended up in a crush of humanity barricaded into Giuliani-style “protest pens,” waiting endlessly to be allowed to get on with it. Lacking drummers for energy or speeches for inspiration, marchers toward the back made a quieter procession, though a few folks with cowbells added levity, and a handful of unique chants bubbled up, including, “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!,” “The people are sick! The people are tired! We the people say, ‘You’re fired!’,” and my own offering: “Racist, sexist, narcissist! We have had enough of this!” Mostly, though, the back of the march felt a little less like a disruptive revolution than a chill stroll with 25,000 of your closest friends.

Regardless of where we lined up, New Yorkers made spectacular use of visuals. There were Handmaid’s Tale outfits, a giant cardboard penis asking, “Why are the Republicans such dicks??,” a cartoon of Trump in a crown and sash as the winner of the Miss Ogyny pageant, the Hamilton logo and quote “Immigrants, we get the job done,” and someone who spent the entire march inside a huge dinosaur costume, declaring, “Patriarchy should have gone extinct.”

Anti-Trump sentiment was a unifying force, of course, but the issues motivating us were as varied as the marchers ourselves. Holding my camera up as high as I could and snapping a random crowd shot resulted in a heartening array of posters supporting clinic access, Black Lives Matter, trans rights, Dreamers, a Martin Luther King Jr. quote critiquing capitalism, and a promise that “feminism includes all genders, all races, all sexualities, and all abilities” (a crucial reminder to white women who insisted on wearing the contentious pink “pussy hats” despite being seen by some women of color and trans women as a symbol of exclusion at last year’s marches). There was a sizable #MeToo and #TimesUp presence, and classic feminist hot takes such as “If my uterus shot bullets it would be less regulated.” Some used Trump’s vitriol against him, stating, “The news is real, the president is fake,” and demanding we “make America not racist for the first time.” Approaches ranged from devastating specificity, as in this list of scourges affecting our “shithole country,” from racist militarized police and attacks on press freedom to daily mass shootings, toxic water, and a broken healthcare system, to just plain fed up (“Boy bye!,” “It’s not okay!” and “I know, I know, I am such a bitch!”). One Broadway fan rewrote Rent lyrics in homage to Trump’s “525,600 tweets.” Quotes from Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisholm, and Malala Yousafzai appeared alongside quips from comedians Samantha Bee and Hari Kondabolu.

Notably, New York feminists stared down 2017’s horrors with humor and creativity. Responding to reports that Trump once asked a porn star to spank him with a copy of a magazine featuring himself and daughter Ivanka on the cover: “I guarantee that Forbes magazine did not give consent.” Questioning the new normal: “This episode of Black Mirror SUCKS.” Challenging the hypocrisy of Trump’s fundamentalist base: “What would Jesus do? Probably not Stormy Daniels.” Evaluating the corporate cronies appointed to dismantle the departments they now lead: “Ikea has better Cabinets.” Mocking the fact that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level: “I know signs. I make the best signs. They’re terrific. Everyone agrees.” And hitting the president right in his spray-tanned vanity: “Learn how to blend your concealer.”

This mammoth show of progressive force in New York and around the country proves that, as Lin-Manuel Miranda might remind us, this is not a moment — it’s a movement. One that has the power to “Grab him by the midterms.”