Not My Presidents Day rally in Columbus Circle draws thousands of anti-Trump protesters

The Not My Presidents Day rally was held at Columbus Circle on Feb. 20, 2017.
The Not My Presidents Day rally was held at Columbus Circle on Feb. 20, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chris Jackson

New Yorkers unhappy with President Donald Trump’s policies used Presidents Day to send a message.

Some 13,000 people gathered outside Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle, the mayor’s office and organizers of the Not My Presidents Day rally said.

“We want to show how displeased we are,” said Andy Frears, 47, of Cobble Hill, who brought his son Luca, 12, and daughter Beatrice, 2, to the protest. “I think the constant presence has a cumulative effect.”

Many families attended together, with Gerry Reddy, 58, of East Rockaway, at Central Park West with his wife and daughter. He felt “compelled” to attend.

“We wanted to assert our First Amendment rights,” Reddy said. 

Demonstrators, packed between West 61st and 72nd streets, chanted “This is what Democracy looks like” and the popular “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

And these New Yorkers had counterparts across the country, with more than 20 Not My Presidents Day rallies in cities that included Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer praised those at Central Park West for turning out to be heard.

“There is nothing more American and nothing more patriotic than standing up for what is right and against what is wrong,” Brewer told the crowd.

“I have a very simple message: This is our America, this is our New York.”

The array of signs – both professional and handcrafted – peppered the crowd, with messages including “Worst President Ever” and “Ban on Bannon,” a reference to Trump’s controversial adviser Stephen Bannon. One woman, wearing a protest staple pink knit “pussy” hat, held a sign fashioned of multicolored Sharpies that read, “I’m not being paid to protest.” 

Another handmade sign, nodding to Trump’s spelling-challenged tweet of a few weeks ago, read simply, “Unprecedentedly unpresidential.” 

Gabrielle Greenberg, 81, of the Upper West Side, is a Portuguese immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1942 and has been going to protests for decades.

“I’ll come to every rally as much as I can. We need to keep doing this,” she said. “This is not the country I came to when I was a child. [Trump] does not represent America’s values.”

The rally marked a third day of protests in New York City. About 1,000 people gathered in Times Square on Sunday for the I Am Muslim Too rally, which showed support for the Muslim community. And on Saturday, a mock funeral for the presidency was held in Washington Square Park.

Shelly Gargus, 50, a prekindergarten teacher from Park Slope, said Trump terrifies her.

“He is a president with a personal profit on his mind. He’s pushing racist and misogynist ideas,” she said. “I think Presidents Day is a day where we think back, reflect and pay tribute to presidents who have helped the country. We feel he hasn’t done that.”

Gargus said she believes the continuing protests in the city show how passionate New Yorkers are.

“It takes a lot to get people out, and for them to make signs,” she added.

-With Polly Higgins