The Birth of a Divided America

All attempts to contact Mexicans For Trump –a Facebook page with 1,300 followers– before the 2016 presidential election went unanswered, but barely two hours after Donald J. Trump won, a notification chirped, announcing their reply.

On November 9, 2016 at exactly 3:55 a.m., the administrator of the Facebook page took a pause from his celebration to send this message: “Not to worry. We already grabbed America by the pussy! Let us all celebrate!”, it read.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-5-48-36-pm

Fifteen hours before the message was sent, the political future of the United States of America remained uncertain.

Outside Trump’s skyscraper, on November 8, 2016, a crowd gathered on 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th Street at noon. Eccentric demonstrators scattered on different corners of the heavily surveilled block and stationed themselves for the day.

The red light on 57th Street allowed an enthusiastic short man, wearing a red Yankees uniform, a knitted American flag beanie, and fluorescent yellow stockings, to stand on the crosswalk singing to bystanders and juggling a star covered ball.

From the corner of 56th Street, two naked men sang a melodic country tune; they were surrounded by a small group of people. Both men wore only white cowboy boots, hats with the letters “Naked Cowboy” scribbled on them, and white underwear with the Republican candidate’s last name. “T R U M P”, the rear of their panties read. Their guitars, stamped with a campaign logo “Trump | Pence 2016”, hung from a strap on their shoulders.

Several women interrupted the country song show asking for a photo with the two naked men. Cheered on by the bystanders, the cowboys swept women off their feet and held them in arms, before spanking them, to the crowd’s delight.

dsc_1089

Sanitation trucks, stationed on a long line, occupied the left lane of 5th Avenue. Instead of trash, tons of sand filled the trucks barricading an isolated Trump Tower.

Jelena Periz, an immigrant from Croatia, walked up and down the block with a wide unshakable smile on her face. She wore the popular red cap with the Republican candidate’s famous slogan “Make America Great Again”. This was the first time Periz voted for a Republican candidate.

Across from her, Joey Zeno, 47, shook a flattened Red Bull can in his hand and hollered “This isn’t about hate… It’s about love for our motherland!” Zeno wore a white shirt with black letters reading “TRUMP & Republicans are not racist. Gods2.com”.

Standing on the corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue, Dan Tintle, 23, smiled; his dreamy gaze fixated upon the top of Trump Tower. Big round pins reading “#Build The Wall”, “#Yuge”, “#I’m with you”, and one with the face of Hillary Clinton behind bars, covered Tintle’s homemade shirt with the face of the Republican candidate stamped on it.

dsc_1303

The 23-year-old Chilli’s kitchen employee remembered fondly the day tycoon Donald Trump announced his candidacy. “I was at school in New Jersey when he made the announcement from this very tower” Tintle explained, pointing at the building before him. “I just wanted to come running”, he said.

With a placard that double his size, Kirk A. Wilcox, 60, protested against the press and the media. Before he became a full-time political activist, Wilcox –an original Bernie Sanders supporter– made his living from collecting trash and selling it in recycling centers; he shifted careers after he was evicted from his house in the Bronx.

But not all the demonstrators on 5th Avenue supported Donald Trump.

Shielded behind metallic short fences, Sajid Khan and Theo Allen tried restlessly to convince the undecided to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton. Khan, a 68-year-old Indian immigrant, explained his theory about Trump’s mental health “People are confused”, he said. “I want to make it clear to them that they can’t vote for someone unable to control his emotions” Khan said. “I’m trying to train mind cleaners”, he asserted.

Allen, 21, came from Westchester County, where he voted for Clinton before commuting to Trump Tower with a yellow and black sign reading “Trump Outsourcer in Chief”.

dsc_1150

What started with a fistful of protesters scattered on the sidewalk in front of the Republican candidate’s building, finished with two separate groups, corralled inside metallic-fenced pens.

Manry Halasa, dressed in a bright red cabaret-style attire, joined the anti-Trump pen after noon. Halasa, who participated in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations years ago, held a sign that read “Trump Make America Hate Again”.

In the supporters’ pen, Mildred Gerardino beamed, dressed with a white long bridal gown and a veil covering her face. “Tonight, Trump is going to marry America” she explained. “This is a new beginning for all of us”, Gerardino trailed of, smiling to the crowd of Trump supporters around her.

Carrying a box of Dunkin Donuts over everyone’s head, Tony-D’imitril made his way through the constrained space inside the corral. He was feeding the people supporting Donald Trump. “Look, I’m black, I’m gay, and I’m a Democrat” said D’imitril who did a run of Starbucks for everyone earlier. “But I voted for Trump because he doesn’t see color barriers”, he explained.

Excited blond women joined the supporters with pink sings reading “Women for Trump”. Two Latinos and several black people, carrying posters and wearing Trump paraphernalia, joined them short after.

Policemen moved pedestrians along, and insisted on keeping protesters inside their pens. Members of the press could either go in the corrals or were asked to move along and leave. A young tall man wearing a pile-of-poo-emoji hat flipped off the Trump supporters who yelled angrily back at him.

As the night settled in, tension between the two pens kept raising.

Around seven p.m., the Trump supporters left their pen on 5th Avenue and walked over to the Hilton Midtown, which served as Trump campaign’s headquarters, on 6th Avenue and 54th Street. There, they would stay well past three a.m. of the following day.

dsc_1364

The group of eccentrics grew on the sidewalk in front of the Hilton and next to the famous LOVE sign, while time passed waiting for news. American flags, blue and red flags with “Trump” written on them and white flags with the blue Star of David fluttered in the dark New York sky, lit by thousands of lights from skyscrapers around.

Drivers from firefighter trucks, police cars, garbage trucks, and MTA buses drove by, supporting the crowd on the street by honking their klaxons.

More than five hours went by. Flags fluttering in the sky and drivers waving, cheering, and honking their horns at the growing crowd of Trump supports.

The election results reached the crowd in dribs and drabs. Hundreds of eyes frantically scanned cellphones’ notifications while fingers scrolled screens, refreshing their feeds. Celebration, too, came in scattered sporadic accounts. Each time another state dyed red, a new wave of cheers and applause exploded. A “Blue lives matter!” chant filled the air.

Once Trump’s victory was certain, reporters that had arrived throughout the night, interviewed the proud victorious people in the crowd.

“Lock her up!”, started as a quiet cheer, but soon became a euphoric roar shouted by bobbing wide-eyed people. “Drain the swamp!”, others chanted.

The newly President-elect didn’t go out to speak to his loyal supporters. Some guests from the hotel’s private event walked out in stilettos, tuxedos and mink coats, to the limousines that awaited them right across the street from the eccentric supporters.

A young woman in a wine-red shirt walked in front of the crowd before it dissolved.

“Fuck you! Fuck Trump! You’re all fucking ignorant. This is your fault! Fuck you!!” she screamed with a quavering voice, pointing her finger at the crowd before disappearing into the night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s