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  • Photo: Michael Garofalo">

    A Trump supporter taunts protesters by waving a pacifier. Photo: Michael Garofalo

  • Protest across the street from the USS Intrepid on Thursday, May 4. Photo: Preston Ehrler

  • Protesting on the West Side Highway on Thursday, May 4. Photo: Preston Ehrler

  • Pro-Trump sign across the street from the USS Intrepid. Photo: Preston Ehrler

  • Demonstrators pn the West Side Highway. Photo: Michael Garofalo

  • Hundreds of demonstrators marched from a rally at Dewitt Clinton Park to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, where Trump attended a reception honoring veterans of the Battle of the Coral Sea. Photo: Michael Garofalo

executive visit

Hundreds protest Trump’s first visit to Manhattan as president

By Michael Garofalo

President Donald Trump’s first trip to Manhattan since taking office was brief. In the span of a few hours on Thursday, May 4, the president departed from Washington, arrived at Kennedy Airport, attended a reception at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum marking the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and left the city for his New Jersey golf club. The demonstrations inspired by Trump’s return lasted longer than the visit itself.

By the time the presidential motorcade arrived at the Intrepid at around 7 p.m., many of the enthusiastic marchers lining the West Side Highway opposite the aircraft carrier had been protesting Trump’s visit for five or more hours. Hundreds of enthusiastic demonstrators chanted anti-Trump mantras and waving signs with slogans like “This village doesn’t want its idiot back!” and “NY hates you!” to welcome the president back to his hometown. “I’m sure he’ll take some kind of perverse satisfaction in this, being the narcissist that he is,” Roberta Degnore, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, said as she awaited Trump’s arrival.

Protester Melissa Hill waved a sign imploring passing vehicles to “honk for revolution.” Drivers who obliged were met with cheers from the crowd. Hill explained that she was visiting from Minneapolis and had chosen to spend the final day of her trip at the demonstrations. “When I heard about this I had to stop my vacation and start protesting,” she said.

A small group of Trump supporters draped in U.S. flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats taunted the protesters. The pro-Trump demonstrators marched back and forth along the barricaded pens on the sidewalk occupied by protesters, chanting “You lost!” and “Thank you, Trump!” After several intense confrontations between Trump supporters and protesters, police herded the supporters into a separate pen. According to an NYPD spokesperson, there were no arrests.

Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds gathered at DeWitt Clinton Park for a rally led by local politicians before marching six blocks south along the West Side Highway to the Intrepid. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and others addressed the protesters, who waved signs and banged pots and pans in approval of the anti-Trump sentiment. “This illegitimate president has waged a war on the American people,” James said. “He’s trying to strip us of our most basic fundamental rights.”

The president’s itinerary initially included two stops in Midtown, at his penthouse apartment in Trump Tower and at the Peninsula Hotel a block away for a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Trump instead met later with Turnbull aboard the Intrepid), but his arrival in New York was delayed after Republican representatives joined Trump at the White House to celebrate the House’s vote, earlier in the day, to pass the American Health Care Act. A small crowd of protesters — and a handful of Trump supporters — gathered along Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower even after word spread that Trump would head directly to the Intrepid upon his arrival in New York, but the scene was subdued in comparison to earlier protests outside the building after Election Day and the inauguration. “It actually looks like less people than normal,” one police officer remarked as he directed pedestrian traffic at the 56th Street intersection opposite Trump Tower.

The NYPD maintained a significant presence outside the president’s former primary residence, as it has since the election. Days before Trump’s visit, Congress reached an agreement to allocate $68 million to reimburse local governments for costs associated with protecting the president and his family, the culmination of a months-long effort by local leaders to secure federal funding and ease the burden on the city’s budget.

NYPD security at Trump Tower cost the city $24 million during the period from Election Day to Inauguration Day. Trump’s wife, Melania, and son, Barron, have continued living at the tower since Trump moved to the White House in January. Their security costs the city an estimated $127,000 to $146,000 per day. During presidential visits, that figure rises to $308,000 per day.

“We know that we will be substantially be made whole for that time up to Inauguration Day, and we know that the stage has been set to get substantial reimbursement for the days after,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference May 5 announcing the appropriations.

After the ceremony at the Intrepid, the president opted against spending the night at Trump Tower. Instead, he headed west across the Hudson River en route to Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. “Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend,” Trump announced via Twitter the next day. “Also saves country money!”

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