Trump Spurs Influx Of Protests City Hasn’t Seen Since 1960s
April 24, 2017
By Rich Calder
President Trump is spurring a groundswell of protest in parks and other public spaces the likes of which New York City hasn’t seen since the anti-establishment movement of the 1960s, experts say.
Data collected by the watchdog group New Yorkers for Parks show at least 146 confirmed protests citywide between January and the middle of April.
Trump’s toughening of immigration policies drew the most attention, with 33 demonstrations. The city also saw at least 17 rallies for women’s rights, 10 for the environment and 10 for healthcare reform.
Of the 146 protests – which drew well over half million people combined — 79 occurred on local sidewalks and streets, 50 inside parks and 17 at public plazas. Outside Trump Tower, City Hall and Washington Square Park in Manhattan were among the prime hotspots.
Get Organized BK!, a Brooklyn-based progressive group formed by Councilman Brad Lander, organized the most protests with 10, including a February “die-in” where activists lied on sidewalks outside Brooklyn Borough Hall and faked their deaths in opposition of Trump’s proposed healthcare plan.
“You would have to go back to the Vietnam War to see similar protest activity,” said Adrian Benepe, a senior vice president for The Trust for Public Land who previously served 11 years as city parks commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The New Yorkers for Parks study was apolitical, but a review of the cited protests shows nearly all of them were critical of the president.
Many of the protests were held without permits as the NYPD says they’re not required for activity on public streets and sidewalks.
Since January, the Parks Department issued 81 permits to protest groups — a 21 percent spike from the 67 issued over the same time in 2016. These protests involved at least some use of parkland, but some still operated primarily on local streets and sidewalks.
Lynn Kelly, New Yorkers for Parks’ executive director, said the city has so far shown it is “well prepared” to accommodate the surge in protests.
However, she expects public spaces to be flooded with even more demonstrations during the warmer months – adding it’s “not clear” whether enough resources have been allocated through the NYPD, Sanitation Department, Parks Department and other city agencies to deal with such a long-term uptick.
“We need to start thinking about what are the best sites in each borough to accommodate large crowds,” she said.
Natalie Grybauskas, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio said the de Blasio administration believes it is already well equipped to handle the “Trump Bump” in protests.
“Freedom of expression is part of what makes New York City the greatest city in the world,” Grybauskas said.
“We’re entirely comfortable with our ability to keep people safe and our city orderly during this unique period in history.”