Fire and Fury Aimed at Trump Homecoming

The events in Charlottesville quickly caught up with concerns about war in North Korea in anti-Trump demonstrations on both Aug. 13 and 14. | Photo by Donna Aceto

BY LEVAR ALONZOPresident Donald Trump returned home on Aug.  14 — his first visit since taking office — to a not so warm welcome. Several thousand people waited outside Trump Tower chanting, “Not my president” and “Shame,” shame,” shame.” But the president’s motorcade came from a different direction, bypassing the enormous crowd. Sanitation dump trucks and hundreds of yards of metal barricades were stationed to contain protestors, who carried signs reading, “The White House is no place for white supremacy” and “Trump loves hate.”

The previous weekend’s racial tensions in Charlottesville — which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, killed when a car driven by an alleged neo-Nazi plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters — combined with alarm over the president’s recent overheated rhetoric toward North Korea spurred demonstrators to spend more than four hours boisterously giving Trump a thumb’s down.

Opposition to racism, support for Black Lives Matter, and rejection of a reckless policy toward North Korea were key themes in the protest. | Photo by Christian Miles

Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, was among the counter-protesters in Charlottesville and described what he encountered there. “It was war… people throwing rocks at us, hitting us with pipes and sticks, and the police just standing there, doing nothing to separate or even help the group being attacked,” he said.

A Rise and Resist protester on Sunday emphasized that the death of Heather Heyer was at the center of the Charlottesville tragedy. | Photo by Donna Aceto

Near Central Park, protesters dressed all in black held a mock funeral procession to mourn Heyer’s death, for which 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., has been charged. “He is not doing anything to judge the supremacist that started the violence or even bring some solace to the Heyer family caused by this senseless attack,” Allison Vandeven, a 22-year-old Queens College student, said of the president.

Members of Rise and Resist, which took the lead in organizing the demonstration, showed their displeasure by singing and clapping along to “Nasty Neo-Nazi,” to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “Goodbye Donny,” adapted from “Hello Dolly.” The group called out Trump’s failure to unambiguously denounce the racism in Charlottesville as well as his tweets saying the American military is “locked and loaded” should North Korea act unwisely.

“In the wake of all this dangerous saber-rattling by the Republican Party, I feel it’s my duty to march and demand the hostile threats of war stop now,” said Maryellen Novak, a Manhattanite and the Rise and Resist co-organizer of the protest. “We are here to demonstrate a force of peace and love.”

The August 14 march was fronted by a “No War” banner. | Photo by Christian Miles

Roughly 1,500 demonstrators spanning two blocks, fronted by a “No War” banner, marched from the New York Public Library on 42nd St. toward Trump Tower at 56th St. via Sixth Ave. Shouts of “Black and trans lives matter” echoed against office tower window panes, and the procession paused near the Fox News headquarters, where protesters shouted, “No hate, no bigotry, no more white supremacy.”

Many protesters had no affiliation to any specific group. Sean Collins carried a sign saying, “White silence equals death.” He explained, “Despite the advice of family members, I came out to make my voice heard. It’s up to white people in this country to stand up for injustices done to other groups of people.”

Among the handful of Trump supporters at the scene on Monday was a group of Orthodox Jews, who emphasized the president’s tough talk on foreign affairs, his support of Israel, and his intention to choose conservative Supreme Court justices. | Photo by Christian Miles

The scene was not devoid of the president’s supporters, with about two dozen stationed two blocks away from Trump Tower chanting, “God bless President Trump.” They carried American flags and signs that read, “Now is not the time for divisiveness.”

“I’m here to support the man I voted for and will change this country, making it great again,” said Heshy Freedman, a Manhattan resident who is part of Jews for Trump. Freedman believes the president will change the Supreme Court’s composition to make it more conservative, stand by Israel, and hang tough with countries like North Korea that threaten American security.

Police employed extensive barricading around Trump Tower . | Photo by Christian Miles

Protesters from the two sides briefly skirmished, but police quickly pinned each group behind barricades, as those in support of Trump continued yelling, “God bless President Trump,” and the other side shouted back, “Go home Nazi, go home.” The protest was largely peaceful, though a Trump supporter was hit by a bottle of water. Police chased the attacker but he disappeared into the crowd. Police said three people were arrested.

“We are at a crossroads of time,” said activist Barry Zable, a performance artist. “War costs the earth. It’s time for people to raise their consciousness, pursue peace and mitigation no matter what side you’re on.”

Demonstrators pointed to the fight America’s “Greatest Generation” waged against Nazi Germany. | Photo by Christian Miles