As President Donald Trump touched down at Kennedy Airport in Queens Thursday evening, protesters were rallying at several locations around Manhattan.
Trump Tower, the president’s former home, was surrounded with a heavy police presence that included a fleet of six DSNY trucks parked directly in front of the Fifth Avenue building.
The area directly across the street was devoid of protesters after Trump canceled plans to visit Trump Tower, but the New York Immigration Coalition staged a rally at 54th Street that they had hoped would pick up after people left work.
The crowd of about 360 people that stretched along Fifth Avenue between 54th and 53rd streets chanted “Stand up, fight back” as some protesters, including Michael Dominic, carried signs.
“People coming to our country are not trying to take our jobs. They’re trying to find a better life,” said Michael Dominic, of Jackson Heights. The 46-year-old documentary filmmaker said he cares most about Trump’s travel bans, which were halted by federal judges.
“It’s what this country is and what it was founded on: when people are in need, you welcome them. You don’t shut them out. That’s a mean, selfish stance.”
Over on Manhattan’s West Side, across the street from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum where Trump was to deliver a speech, about 500 protesters gathered to await his arrival Thursday afternoon. Organizers encouraged people to show up after work when Trump’s visit was pushed back, but the crowd had dwindled somewhat by 6 p.m.
Many of those who remained engaged in shouting matches with a group of pro-Trump supporters clad in “Make America Great Again” hats and carrying flags.
“I’m proud of the president and we should show support. He’s our hometown president,” said Robert Herrera, 32, of the Bronx. Herrera said he came here legally from Ecuador and he doesn’t support special treatment for those who didn’t.
The NYPD directed protesters into partisan pens: “For Trump over here! Against Trump over there!”
About 20 to 30 people in the pro-Trump group chanted “U-S-A!” as the beginning of the motorcade rode by just before 7 p.m.
Trump was originally scheduled to be in Manhattan around 3 p.m. and protest organizers had planned their demonstration at De Witt Clinton Park on 54th Street based on that timetable, hoping to “drown out” the president’s speech at the Intrepid museum just a few blocks away.
Trump’s late arrival didn’t stop some New Yorkers from heading to the protest early anyway, including Queens resident Steve McCasland, 30, who decided to go after news of an executive order aimed at protecting churches that are politically active.
“He doesn’t represent this city,” McCasland said.
Christina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, which advocates for undocumented immigrants, said the city is made up of immigrants. “We’re the real New Yorkers. He’s a penthouse New Yorker.”
And while passions were high, some New Yorkers were hoping the sentiment would earn them some extra money.
“Anything to do with this guy, business is going to be good,” said Bed-Stuy resident Dinetta Gilmore, who was selling protest buttons and “RESIST” flags right on the corner from the Rise and Resist protest at West 44th Street and 12th Avenue that began at 3 p.m.
“Every time he opens his mouth, we get to make a new button. Every time he opens his mouth, the registers ring.”
Across the street from the rally, men in black ties and women in ball gowns showed tickets to police to get past barricades, heading toward the Intrepid. Attendees declined to be interviewed.
For the protest at De Witt Clinton Park, demonstrators were encouraged to bring pots and pans to bang on, a form of protest known in Latin America as a cacerolazo.
“It’s a way for people to symbolically drown out Trump’s speech,” Joe Dinkin, a spokesman for the Working Families Party, which organized the event, said ahead of the protest. “We don’t want to allow him to have our city be his backdrop.”
The group of protesters eventually marched down 12th Avenue to 47th Street, about a block from the Intrepid, before they were blocked by police barricades. They continued to rally there, chanting slogans like “Not my President” and “No Trump NYC.”
Maxine Lubow, 75, of Orange County, held aloft a Statue of Liberty figure.
“She’s a strong woman who represents the best of the United States. He’s stripping that away,” she said.
Brooklyn resident Wendy Sacks, 64, held a sign that had a picture of Trump and the words “so-called New Yorker.”
“Donald Trump was born here but he doesn’t have New York values. We’re a city that welcomes immigrants,” she said. “Also, he doesn’t have a sense of humor, especially about himself.”
Trump was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea at the Intrepid. He was also expected to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
With David Schwartz, Matthew Chayes and Vin Barone