As Ukraine is being assaulted on all fronts by the Russian military, New Yorkers marched from every side of the city Sunday to denounce Vladimir Putin and his invasion of the sovereign, eastern European country.
Gigantic protests have been surging throughout the Big Apple as citizens both with and without ties to the embattled country look to show solidarity with the incomprehensible human suffering.
As amNewYork Metro followed and spoke with many of these men and women, they are the first ones to admit that their voices — over 4,000 miles away — are being drowned out by the sound of missile fire and “Mad Vlad” symbolically placing his fingers into his ears.
However, they feel like they need to do something, and that something is waving Ukraine’s Blue and Gold colors wherever they go.
On Feb. 27, New Yorkers came from Uptown and Downtown to show their support. Beginning in Washington Square Park with an NYU Russian Culture Club fundraiser and rally, hundreds descended on the Greenwich Village commons.
Among them stood 41-year-old Sarah Bachinger, whose grandparents immigrated from Ukraine. Recently she had been reconnecting with her heritage and family, yet what initially began as a journey of self-discovery soon descended into a heart wrenching horror story which forced her watch citizens handed rifles to defend their homes.
“It’s really hard watching everything that’s going on and I’m trying to do what I can being here in the United States,” Bachinger said, sharing that she traveled from Albany to New York City to join the support efforts.
While there have been prayer services and community gatherings upstate, Bachinger said she wanted to do more and felt that New York City was the place to spread awareness.
A Russian-born protester, who did not want to be identified, shared that he is a member of an NYU Russian club and yearned to showcase his support for Ukraine while decrying the atrocities being committed at Putin’s direction.
“Russians these days feel like Germans in 1939, and we feel like we have to do something to raise funds for the effort,” he said, adding that he is Ukrainian, but was born and raised in Moscow. “It’s a mass suicide, the guy [Putin] decided that he’s like 70 years old it’s time to do something to get into the history books as a tyrant.”
Liza Pitts was born in the United States but spent her childhood in Russia where many of her family members still reside.
“Not a single one of my family members supports this war. You would have to be crazy. You’d have to be insane to support it. Putin is not my president; he is a dictator. He is illegally in power. I did not vote for him. Nobody in my family voted for him. Nobody in my neighborhood voted for him. And I also have family and friends in Ukraine, more extended, but nevertheless still people I care about, and I do not support what is happening between our countries,” Pitts said. “He does not have the interests of Russian people in mind whatsoever. He’s doing it for himself.”
Organizers promised that donated proceeds will go to the NYU Culture Club and Russian Culture Club and will be disseminated to the United Help Ukraine, providing direct medical and basic shelter and other necessities to displaced Ukrainians and Voices of Children.
In the late afternoon, hundreds of protesters traveled from Washington Square Park to the Consulate General of the Russian Federation on East 91st Street. Packing into 6 train subway cars with signs calling for an end to the war.
Outside the Russian owned walls, protesters chanted, “We stand with Ukraine!” with emotional fervor. The large group called for an end to the bloodshed, directing their anger at the Consulate.
“We are not alone; Ukraine is not alone, and we support Ukraine. We need more support, moral support. We need arms, we need weapons, we need supplies. Please help with all the means. We will do the rest,” Arthur Zgurov said. “To those who live in Russia, you cannot be silenced, protest and stop this war.”