On the eve of Election Day, more than 15,000 people had signed up to attend the Facebook event, “Point and Laugh at Trump Tower on November 9th.” Though the election didn’t turn out as he hoped, event organizer Jon Bershad showed up on Wednesday to do exactly that. He was the only one.
Although it was raining when Bershad arrived at Trump Tower, about two dozen protesters stood with umbrellas and held signs while chanting, “Not my president!” New York Police Department officers stood alongside them, ushering media and curious bystanders to keep moving.
A handful of Trump supporters showed up too. But unlike the protesters, they stood mostly silent, save for the naked cowboy, strumming his guitar while singing, “Vote for the man who’s going to make America great again.”
Wednesday morning’s protest was only the first of many to take place across the U.S. following Trump’s unexpected win of the White House.
Bershad, 29, certainly didn’t expect a Trump victory five months ago when he was on his way to lunch and noticed tourists taking pictures in front of Trump Tower.
“The idea to me that this man had come to represent America in many ways was so repulsive,” said Bershad, who at the time worked at an ad agency, “Something has to show that, no, this is ridiculous. [Trump] doesn’t belong in our serious, democratic process.”
So Bershad, now a writer at the comedy news site Seriously.tv, created the event and then shared it with 50 of his friends simply “as a joke,” he said. In the months leading up to the election, its following grew. In addition to the 15,000 people who clicked that they planned to attend in New York; another 42,000 clicked that they were interested.
On the Facebook page, people posted comments of approval and pictures of themselves making obscene gestures at the Trump Tower. Several had asked permission to start a similar event in their own cities.
But among the jokes and laughs shared on the page, there was also confusion and negativity.
“This is still happening no matter what, right?” one post from Tuesday evening read.
And just an hour earlier, another user had criticized the event: “This has to be the MOST childish thing I have ever seen on the internet!”
Even for Bershad, the fate of the event seemed unclear. “Some days I think I’ll just hang out with myself for an hour there,” he said the day before the election, “On other days, I think I should have gotten a permit.”
A permit was the last thing he needed.
Outside the building, Bershad, dressed in a navy blue blazer and red shirt, stood out among the Trump protesters whose agendas did not include pointing and laughing. Bershad remained at their side – the only one to laugh and shrug his shoulders.
Some people said that they had heard of the Facebook event. Most had no clue what it was.
“I had signed up on Facebook, but after last night, we realized that probably wasn’t going to happen anymore because it was supposed to be a victory,” said Brandon Sargent, 21.
Even for those who supported Trump and had shown up at the building that morning, there was no laughter.
“It’s just a joke to point and laugh,” said Donald Knoxz, who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat. “The election results are real,” the 34-year-old said.
Despite the grave mood at Trump Tower, Bershad remained upbeat.
“[Trump is] still stuck with being president despite not knowing how to run a country,” he said, “That’s still funny, but now I also have to laugh at myself. It’s a dark joke.”