Since the election, most of the demonstrations in front of Trump Tower have been protests against the results but on Sunday, several dozen supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump had their chance, calling for the nation to come together.
The demonstration started off slowly. When the event began at noon, only a handful of people were present. An hour later, about three dozen more met inside the metal barricade that separated them from the public. New York Police Department officers stood by, silently monitoring the growing rally and urging bystanders to keep moving.
The supporters wore Trump apparel like the red “Make American Great Again” hat and held “Trump-Pence 2016” signs in the chilly weather. They chanted “President Trump” in between speeches from Nachman Caller, a rally sponsor and Brooklyn lawyer, and David “Bull” Gurfein, a retired Marine Corps officer and unsuccessful Republican candidate this year for Congress from Nassau County. The crowd stomped their feet and yelled, “Go Trump” as drivers passing by honked their horns.
Some bystanders stopped to take pictures as the Trump supporters unrolled the American flag and held up their signs.
The group also said a prayer for Trump, asking God to give him “guidance to turn the country around.” Later, Mary Devine, a professional singer and cantor, led the group in singing the national anthem.
Caller, a lawyer based in Brooklyn, said he wanted to make sure Trump was welcomed as the newly elected president.
“I’m here to show the president that the solid majority of America really supports him,” he said. “We are saying he is our president and we have to support him.”
Caller, who voted for Trump, also said he wanted to “reach out to the Democrats” and asked that they show their support for him. “Donald Trump is really doing the job that everyone wants him to do,” he said.
Other rally goers said they agreed with Caller and hoped that the country would unite and show its support for Trump.
“We’re one country, we have one president and we have to come together and make the administration successful,” said Philip Rosenthal, 50, who ran unsuccessfully this year on the Republican ticket for New York’s 10th Congressional District. “Even Hillary said we have to give him a chance.”
The rally goers also said they were disturbed by anti-Trump protesters.
“I see the anti-Trump protesters and I believe that they’re not protesting anything substantial,” said Erik Swanson, 21, a student at Catholic University. “They say he’s racist. What I would ask them is: show me where he is a racist. He’s not. He’s for Americans.”
Ariel Kohane, 45, a kosher foods services manager who said he volunteered for Trump’s campaign, agreed. “Trump has employed lots of blacks, Hispanics, Latina women,” Kohane said. “He’s very pro-gay.”
An hour and a half into the rally, the Trump supporters were met by at least 80 anti-Trump protesters. In the following half hour, the two groups chanted to each other as police officers stood between them.
The Trump supporters yelled “USA” repeatedly and stood their ground although they were outnumbered by the anti-Trump protesters by at least two to one.
At one point, the anti-Trump protesters turned the other way, chanting to the Trump rally goers, “Turn your back on fascists.”
Robin Morris, 48, an interior designer, took part in the anti-Trump protest. Unlike the Trump supporters, she said she did not believe that Trump was for Americans.
“Hillary wanted to try to speak for all people,” she said, “whereas Trump is sending a lot of dog whistles and being very divisive.”
Trump won the presidency by feeding into people’s fears, Morris said.
“People are thoroughly misinformed,” she said. “The more the media, press, and journalists go against Trump, the more that seems to feed their narrative, but that’s a misinformed narrative.”
Around 2 p.m., the Trump supporters had also turned their backs on the protesters, walking away from the crowd and continuing to chant, “Trump.”