BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Dozens of protesters “trolled” President Trump on Wed., Aug. 21, by gathering outside Trump Tower and calling for the one block of Fifth Ave. between 56th and 57th Sts. to be renamed President Barack H. Obama Ave.
The protest comes after an online petition on moveon.org calling for the avenue’s renaming received more than 430,000 signatures.
“It started as a joke,” Elizabeth Rowin, the petition creator, said at the event. “It’s a way to poke the giant in the eye.”
In response to the mass support the petition received, Rowin sent the document to every single New York City Council member. A few got back to her and said that if enough people signed the petition, the renaming could become a reality. According to Rowin, several signers are planning on attending a Sept. 12 City Council meeting to push for the renaming.
In order to get a street named in New York City, an individual needs to obtain signatures — either online or in person — from at least 75 percent of the residents and/or business people on the block. After getting the signatures, the applicant needs to bring the petition to a traffic and transportation committee meeting of the area’s corresponding community board. The next step, is to get that full community board’s approval. If approved, the petition needs to be sent to the City Council. The City Council will then evaluate the street-renaming application. Prospective honorees should have at least 10 years of community involvement and must have been dead at least two years before the petition submission. The City Council votes on street name changes only twice a year.
Even if the street cannot be renamed, for protesters the occasion provided a good excuse to voice their disapproval of the president’s comportment and policies.
“He is crumbling our democracy every day,” said Liza Trinkle, a 39-year-old speech language pathologist from Brooklyn. “It shouldn’t be normalized like it’s unfortunately becoming. So we need to confront him in humorous ways, more protesty ways, just every way that we can every day.”
The demonstrators cited the president’s stance on immigration, in particular, the migrant detention centers at the border. They also blasted his personalized attacks on critics, his previous call for the death penalty for the Central Park 5 and the alienation of America’s allies, among other issues.
All of these make him worthy of the moniker “Troll King,” they said.
Rowin believes that Obama deserves recognition for helping the country recover from the Great Recession of 2007/08 and for the killing of Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for orchestrating 9/11. She is hopeful that the city will be able to make a special exemption since Los Angeles has already renaming a stretch of street in the 44th president’s honor.