Thousands of New Yorkers joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin and a number of other celebrities to protest Donald Trump outside of Trump International Hotel and Tower on the eve of his inauguration.
“Donald Trump is a New Yorker, and yet he has spread a message across this country” that is so unlike New Yorkers, actress Rosie Perez said as she opened the We Stand United rally.
“Tonight I want us to move forward with love and hope,” Perez said. “The world is watching and we want to let them know that we are here. We’re good people who care about one another.”
Greenpeace and MoveOn were among the protest’s organizers, and they enlisted a star-studded lineup of speakers.
Before introducing de Blasio, Robert De Niro read hypothetical tweets he said he expected to see from Trump following his appearance at the rally, including “‘De Niro should give back his Oscars. Voting was rigged. There’s only one true Raging Bull and that is Vladimir Putin.'”
“[Trump] is a bad example of this country, this city,” De Niro added.
Seeking to unite New Yorkers as well as Americans across the country, de Blasio delivered an impassioned speech, encouraging people to take action.
“Tomorrow Donald Trump will have power, but tomorrow, you will have power as well,” the mayor said. “Donald Trump may control the agenda in Washington, but we control our destiny.”
De Blasio reminded the crowd that the entire country does not reside in Washington.
“It’s every town in America where change is made. We’ll keep making change regardless of who is in D.C.,” he added. “We should not let anyone define us just by what we’re against; we want to be defined by what we’re for — what we believe in.”
De Blasio told attendees that it’s time to build their own movement, the way Trump has said he built his.
Totaling the numbers of voters who chose a candidate other than Trump at about 10 million, Moore got the crowd chanting, “We are the majority.” He also encouraged New Yorkers to take part in 100 Days of Resistance, a movement to resist Trump’s policies, which will begin on Inauguration Day.
“I like to think positively that it will only take 100 days,” Moore added.
Providing some comedic relief with a side of political activism, Baldwin delivered his now-famous Trump impression while urging New Yorkers to continue to fight against the incoming administration.
“Donald Trump and Steve Bannon and Mike Pence, they think that you are going to lay down,” Baldwin said. “They don’t realize New Yorkers never lay down.”
Baldwin also touched on a topic of major concern for many immigrant New Yorkers: personal information and IDNYC. He urged people to visit the municipal card’s website as a way to get involved.
Many fear Trump’s administration will try to use account information from IDNYC cards, which people can obtain regardless of immigration status, as a way to identify illegal immigrants in the city for possible deportation.
Additional celebrities and notables to speak at the rally included New York City’s first lady Chirlane McCray, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Cher, Julianne Moore, Sally Field, Shailene Woodley, Marisa Tomei and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Mark Ruffalo, one of the first to sign on to appear at the rally, told the crowd to consider themselves “people protectors” instead of protesters.
“If you want violence, get out. We are peaceful,” he added.
Woodley, who said she was told there were between 20,000 and 25,000 people in attendance, leaned on the momentum from the Standing Rock demonstrations to rally protesters.
“They did it in North Dakota when no one was watching … we can do it across the country,” she said.
Woodley was an active participant in the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline late last year.
Everyday New Yorkers turned out in droves, some with homemade signs that displayed messages like “Not my president” and “I’m not a sore loser. I’m an informed citizen.”
Jennifer Genison, 52, a school administrator who lives in Westchester, was among the protest attendees. She said the celebrity presence helped bring people out, remarking that stars “have a voice that normal people don’t.”
Another protester, Bill Peek, 62, of Glen Cove, said, “I hope this lets the world know people are horrified … This isn’t a moment just for the left. Any mainstream person with common sense should be opposed to what is coming.”
Despite earlier encouragements for the rally to march to Trump Tower, the idea was ultimately nixed. Ruffalo said the city didn’t approve the march and told ralliers to peacefully head home.
The rally culminated with a rousing chorus of “This Land is Your Land,” led by Natalie Merchant.
-With Ivan Pereira