The Supreme Court’s dramatic decision Friday to reverse the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade precedent protecting women’s reproductive rights sparked outcry across New York City.
Fuming New Yorkers are flooding the city streets by the thousands throughout Lower Manhattan on June 24 after the conservative-led Supreme Court’s decision. Although both city and state elected officials pledged to uphold the right to choose in New York, other states around the country won’t be so lucky.
Just before 8 p.m., there were reports of crowd estimates of about 17,000 at the demonstration. Thousands more were still packed in Union Square.
Females of all ages and supporters gathered at meeting points from Foley Square and Union Square to Washington Square Park to protest what many in New York and across the country believe to be an unjust decision infringing upon women’s rights.
The unbridled fury could both be heard and felt reverberating from the streets as marchers refused to remain silent on what they feel to be an attack on their bodies, health and financial security. The mass protest was expected by the mayor’s office and instead of attempting to quell the flames, the mayor approved of the actions.
Leah Gross, 15, a high school student from Flatbush, cried when she first heard the decision. She’s very worried for the future.
“It’s very scary. Is their goal just to take away all of our rights? It’s terrifying,” Gross said. “I’m so young and this is already happening, and it’s gonna get worse.”
Mahayana Landowne, from Crown Heights, wore a wedding dress and a blindfold as part of a costume depicting “justice” weeping.
“I believe justice is weeping today,” Landowne said. The justices of the Supreme Court have blood on their hands.”
Several elected officials, including state Attorney General Letitia James and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, also addressed the crowd, and urged them to keep up the fight.
“Every movement in this country, every revolution that we’ve had, that we’ve ever experienced in this country, has not been led by elected officials. It’s been led all of you who are here today,” James said. “And the only way that we can respond to this political decision is a political response.”
Maloney echoed those sentiments in her remarks.
“We have to run for office,” she said. “We have to have the votes to fight them. We are having hearings. We are doing everything our bodies, ourselves, our freedom.”
Ximena Vergara, a Mexico native, said that the Supreme Court wasn’t just content with ending reproductive rights — but wanted more. That’s a reflection of remarks from the opinion of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who indicated Friday’s decision may serve as precedent to throw out previous rulings protecting same-sex marriage rights and other LGBTQ+ rights.
Vergara said it’s time for Americans to fight back.
“We have not fought back hard enough yet, but that ends today,” she said. “All our anger has to turn into a tsunami.”
The participants at the Foley Square and Union Square protests merged together with the gathering at Washington Square Park, with the crowd size swelling into the thousands, making it nearly impossible for people to move.
The sea of humanity began moving northward along 5th Avenue.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flew from Washington, D.C, to Union Square joining protesters late into the evening as she urged them to be relentless in restoring all of our rights in the United States. As a strong advocate for the right to choose, she spoke of how she brought friends to a free family health center to get abortions so they would not feel alone. The congress woman shared her own personal account with abortion, stating that four years ago she when was a waitress in Union Square, she was raped.
“I had friends who were sexually assaulted right after getting off of work. I, myself, when I was about 22 or 23 years old was raped when I was living here in New York City. I was completely alone. I felt completely alone. In fact, I felt so alone that I had to take a pregnancy test in a public bathroom in Midtown Manhattan. When I sat there waiting for what the result would be all I could think was thank God I at least have a choice,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Ocasio-Cortez added that Roe v Wade is not women’s right issue, it’s an issue for everyone. She called upon President Joe Biden to
Governor Kathy Hochul also attended the rally in Union Square, pledging that New York State will protect a woman’s right to choose. She also toted the $35 million allocated to make sure New Yorkers have access to abortion as well as being a safe harbor for women across the nation.
“We stand in solidarity with our sisters across this nation who have now had their rights denied,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “We can be a safe harbor for women all across this country. You come to New York, and we will take care of you. This is the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. We have abortion in this state three years before the rest of this nation.”
Photo by Dean Moses
“We must use our power of protest as mentioned, and our sacred right to vote, as Ingrid mentioned, to stop this assault on our individual liberties and now more than ever,” Mayor Adams said earlier in the day at a press conference in City Hall.
Meanwhile, another throng of protesters marched northbound on Park Avenue from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park, stopping along the way at News Corp headquarters, home of Fox News, where they shouted “shame” at security guards working outside the company’s 6th Avenue edifice.
“Your agenda is not going to work, and people are on to you, and the things you’re doing are evil,” said protester Selma Cinar outside News Corp, when asked what she would say to company chair and founder Rupert Murdoch. “You bloodthirsty, love-lacking, psychologically malnourished man. I hope you seek therapy and love and fill all the voids in your life, and get the f**k off my body.”
Protesters shouted “f**k Tucker Carlson,” in reference to the white nationalist Fox host, and scrawled graffiti on the News Corp building displaying their displeasure with the cable news channel.
After the march concluded at Bryant Park, a number of protesters moved to the intersection of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, where they sat in the roadway with the intention of getting arrested.
NYPD officers arrested about a dozen protesters, many of them topless, for disorderly conduct. “F**k the NYPD,” one protester told amNewYork Metro as she was being placed in cuffs.
More were arrested later on as the mass of protesters still on scene remained in the roadway, twerking on buses, hopping on a flatbed, and singing “Empire State of Mind” with a pedicab driver. Some arrests were for disorderly conduct, others for unlawful assembly. All in all about two dozen demonstrators were loaded into the back of paddy wagons.