October 19, 2016
By Steven Wishnia
New York, NY – At 7:50 in the morning Oct. 18, a group of about 80 women dressed in black sat down in front of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, bearing signs like “GOP Hands Off Me” and “Pussy Grabs Back.”
“Donald Trump is a racist. He’s a xenophobe. He’s a misogynist. He’s a sexual predator,” Yong Jung Cho, 26, of Sunnyside, told the multiracial group, mostly but not exclusively younger women. “I’m afraid for my life and my little sister’s life.”
Eleven police officers and one security-type man guarded the gold-colored entrance to the building as the women, sitting in four long rows, chanted, “Trump thinks he runs this town, pussy came to shut it down.” After about 25 minutes, the group stood up and marched north to 59th Street.
“I’m angry and pissed off that somebody is running for the nation’s highest office who was a sexual predator,” Nikki Fortunato Bas, 48, told LaborPress. The connection between Trump’s behavior and sexual harassment of women at work, she added, is “obvious.”
In the now-infamous “grab them by the pussy” recording, she said, Trump was “basically admitting sexual assault.” “He thinks he can have access to women’s bodies no matter what they want,” she went on. “It emboldens men in power to think they have access to women’s bodies because of their power. It condones sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
As an American, said Trisha Hahn, 28, of Brooklyn, “I can’t let the rest of the world think we’re OK with this.”
Similar protests, organized online and by telephone, were held at Trump campaign offices in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and Chicago, with others scheduled for cities including Miami, Denver, Seattle, and Oakland, California.
The protests were intended to “create space for women, especially women of color, to speak out against the racism and sexism of the GOP and of Trump in particular,” Bernal told LaborPress. “Trump isn’t an aberration of the Republicans, he’s actually the culmination.”
Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric reflects the party’s 50 years of appealing to racism through “dog-whistle politics,” she added, and his attitudes toward women share the “toxic masculinity” of talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who regularly rants against “feminazis.” (In 2004, Limbaugh said that “the sexual harassment crowd” consisted of unattractive women “protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes.”)
The Trump tape inspired her to come out as a rape survivor, Fortunato Bas, who has a 12-year-old daughter, told the crowd. “I’m outraged by the conversations we have to have with our children when we have a sexual predator running for office,” she added. She said she would rather have “a vision of our country that’s filled with love and respect.”