Tens of Thousands of people took to the streets of Manhattan Saturday, creative signs in tow, for a protest in the name of science.
The March for Science, one of several hundred held around the world, was planned as a response to the proposed budget cuts and political appointments of President Donald Trump, march organizers said.
Protesters marched with signs that read “Science should be shared not censored,” “Rise up before the waters do,” and “Dinosaurs didn’t believe in climate change either.”
As the protesters passed Trump International Hotel and Tower, shouts of “Evil!” “Shame! Shame!” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” and “Impeach!” rent the air.
Jill Dvornik, a senior stem-cell researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital and march co-organizer, said important initiatives are being threatened by federal budget cuts. Advances in everything from biomedical studies to technological devices could be affected.
“In general, more people are accepting of science,” she said. “This is a nonpartisan issue.”
Marchers took their first steps on Central Park West and West 72nd Street around 10:30 a.m. and proceeded south to Broadway via Columbus Circle, passing Trump International Hotel and Tower. The march ended at West 52nd Street and Broadway.
As the massive crowd headed down Central Park West, chants of “Science makes America great” rippled down the street.
Christina Lowenstein, 55, of Manhattan, stood on Broadway handing out pink pro-science paper caps in the style of the hats worn by women’s rights advocates critical of Trump.
“We can’t believe we even have to say that we’re in favor of science, quite frankly,” she said.
By noon, the march stretched north for at least a dozen blocks from Trump International Hotel and Tower near Columbus Circle.
Mutale Nkonde, co-director of the march and Black Girls Code volunteer, said she and the hundreds of supporting groups wanted New York’s march to be one of a kind. They treated the event like a parade, incorporating floats, banners, puppets and other artistic representations throughout the day.
“This taps into people’s psychological need for a good time and feeling safe in the city,” she said of the parade’s design.
Liz Peterson, managing editor of science magazine “Nautilus” said ahead of the march that she expected many New Yorkers who may not work in a science-related field to join. They are fed up with many of the current administration’s policies, such as the proposed $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health and proposed $2.6 billion cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Everyone I’ve talked to has been very supportive of science. Whatever you can say about New Yorkers, one thing is sure: We do have common sense and know that science isn’t something that should be cut,” she said.
Peter Haugen, a 45-year-old psychologist from New Jersey, said he’s alarmed at proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health, which he says will imperil health and the fight against diseases and chronic illnesses.
“I don’t know that there’s anything that cuts closer to home than life or death,” he said.
But Jim MacDonald, 67, an actuary from Flushing, Queens, stood near the demonstrators holding a “Thank God for Trump” sign above his head.
“I’m angry, because these people are pretending to have a science march when really it is this week’s anti-Trump march,” he said.
Kim Knowlton, a scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said New York has a significant stake in the future of scientific funding. New Yorkers have lived the effects of environmental change first hand, she said, through natural disasters like superstorm Sandy, and those experiences can send a powerful message.
“I think the real experiences are what challenge us,” Knowlton said. “We have such a living experience about what climate change is doing and it’s very immediate for people.”
The organizers acknowledged, however, there is still a steep hill to climb. Despite a show of force for other anti-Trump protests, such as the January women’s marches and last week’s Tax Day March, the administration continues to move forward with its plans.
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a Brooklyn marine biologist who took part in the march in Washington, D.C., hopes this weekend’s activities will be the start of an enduring and powerful pro-science movement.
“I think the march is a great opportunity to coalesce the community of science advocates. I think there is an exciting opportunity for New York City and New York state to lead the country,” she said.
Keeping with the theme of inclusivity, anyone who can’t attend one of the more than 600 marches planned around the world was urged to follow along with the march in D.C. via a livestream posted to the March for Science website.
Trump responded to the Earth Day marchers protesting his skepticism of science and deep cuts to science funding with a statement saying he was committed to protecting the environment as long as it did not hinder economic growth.