Graham Hebel is a photographer and marketing coordinator based in New York City, a 2013 alumnus of Ithaca College and a former photo editor for The Ithacan. Below is an account of how he came across the anti-Trump rally in New York City on Nov. 9, which he then documented with photos, shown above.
Like most New Yorkers, I believed that the American people would elect Hillary Clinton, and not Donald Trump, as our country’s forty-fifth president. I was under the impression that America, as a whole, had made real progress toward becoming a more inclusive country — one that valued tolerance and compassion over hatred and ignorance. The outcome of Tuesday’s election showed me that I was wrong to believe this, and that my perspective was hopelessly naive and grossly unrealistic. The unfortunate reality is now clear: The majority of our fellow Americans would rather be led and represented by an aggressively hateful and bigoted individual than by any other candidate.
As I processed this realization, I felt alternatively shocked, depressed, angry and concerned about the next four years, and about the legacy of a Trump presidency. During my commute the next morning, I noticed that everyone around me seemed to share my feelings of stunned disbelief.
Shortly after I arrived at work, my girlfriend texted me about a protest scheduled for that evening. Someone had organized a rally that proposed to begin in Union Square and conclude outside Trump Tower, a little more than two miles later. After work, I met up with my girlfriend, also a photographer, to participate in the protest and to photograph what we witnessed.
It was raining as we set out from Union Square, part of a crowd of thousands, raising our collective voice against hate and intolerance. Our united column marched northward along 5th Avenue, an angry chorus chanting slogans like “Love not hate!”, “Dump Trump!” and “We reject the president elect!” Protesters climbed street signs and hung from scaffolding, adding their shouts to the shared uproar. Trucks, buses, and taxis honked rhythmically as the protest passed by, their drivers adding their voices to the communal exclamation and invigorating protesters and onlookers alike. Numerous participants carried signs with messages of defiance aimed directly at Trump including “NYC against Trump!”, “Not my president!”, “This pussy grabs back!” and “Don’t make America hate again!” Others championed a wider message of compassion, chanting and carrying signs reading “Love trumps hate!”, “Build bridges not walls!” and “Lead with love!”
As it progressed, our collective effort grew by hundreds of individuals. The protest halted traffic all along its route, and in one case, a line of protesters linked arms together to block traffic from passing through a narrow gap in the protest line. Drawing closer to Trump Tower, I noticed smiles appearing amidst our shared anger and sense of loss. Many were clearly feeling the same emotions that I was, reveling in the sense of community and in our non-violent release of anger and frustration. It was energizing and cathartic to be able to grieve together with my community and to hope that perhaps our country would not backslide into racism, xenophobia, and prejudice.