One Year Outside Trump Tower
After Donald Trump won the U.S. election in November, 2016, I began a series of photoessays featuring images I captured outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan. These essays featured many of the protestors and fans, New Yorkers and tourists, and protests, which passed by Trump’s former residence. A selection of these photos from the past year follows.
Within days after Trump’s election, New Yorkers marched through Manhattan in an enormous display of solidarity against the new President. The November 12th March ended outside Trump Tower.
In late January, the country descended into chaos after Trump’s immigration executive order began to be enforced. The scene outside Trump Tower reflected the new President’s policies.
One of the more surreal characteristics of any visit to the Trump Tower has been the ongoing mix of Trump fans taking selfies and requesting photographs with the heavily armed, militarized police working there — in contrast with an array of different people protesting significant issues. Or simply stopping by to offer the President a symbolic gesture with a single uplifted hand.
On February 12th about 100 or so LGBTQ protestors also marched from the Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle towards Trump Tower but the police stopped them at 57th and 5th across from Bergdorf Goodman. Still, their sense of humor and commitment were on display.
On August 13th, we saw protests outside Trump Tower after the “alt-right” and right-wing extremist rallies in Charlottesville, VA, where a protestor was killed. Still, a handful of people showed up to support the President.
September now and several protestors gathered with signs related both to the #TakeAKnee campaign and the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria. Several Trump supporters also spent much of the time there, demonstrating their support for the President and often interacting with the protestors.
Jovi Val (birth name Javanni Valle) achieved momentary notoriety when he joined another protestor and Trump supporter to interrupt the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar last summer. Here he confronted a woman, portraying Trump’s administration as klansmen. “What makes him a hooded fella?” He said, “You’re insulting my President.”
Another fan of the President carried a Trump/MAGA flag and walked quietly up and down before the building. She eventually held the flag open with a fellow supporter. A group of white women applauded them and joined them for photographs.
As you can often see outside Trump Tower, however, many expressed their displeasure with the President simply and directly.
One Saturday in early November and a couple of regular protestors positioned themselves across from Trump Tower, as well as a handful of Trump supporters, who stood quietly nearby. Neither group engaged the other while I was there.
One of the flags flown by these Trump supporters wasn’t a true American flag, but a “three percenter” representation of it. Per their own website, The Three Percenters is “a national organization made up of patriotic citizens who love their country, their freedoms, and their liberty.” They explicitly claim not to be a militia. None of them appeared to be openly carrying any weapons. Wikipedia currently describes them as “an American nationalist paramilitary group which pledges armed resistance against attempts on the restriction of private gun ownership.”
It’s worth noting how unusual it is to see a Confederate flag of any sort flying on 5th Avenue in New York City — even if it was outside of Trump Tower.
As I stood here, I watched many pedestrians stream: Trump supporters, Trumps critics, scores of tourists, Muslim women in chador, a whole troop of by scouts, and dozens of fashionable New Yorkers laden down with expensive goods. Overall, the scene was peaceable and coming just a few days after a terrorist attack in Manhattan, seemed to exemplify two values common to many New Yorkers: Tolerance and diversity.