It's not entirely clear what time President Donald Trump will touch down in New York City Monday, following a short-notice Washington D.C. detour this morning. What's obvious, though, is that New Yorkers will be out protesting this week following his initial refusal to denounce white supremacy and neo-Nazism on display at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
The two-day gathering ended in tragedy Saturday, when a participant mowed through a group of anti-racist protesters in a car, killing one and injuring nineteen. Trump initially criticized violence "on many sides." On Monday morning, in the wake of swift and harsh criticism, he held a brief press conference to announce a civil rights Department of Justice investigation into the driver attack. "Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacists," he said. Trump did not take questions.
New Yorkers mourned the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer on Sunday, rallying at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Union Square in Manhattan, and marching to Trump Tower. Below are actions planned for today and into the week.
- This afternoon, look out for an inflated, fifteen-foot-tall "Trump Rat" at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South inspired by those snarly blow-ups placed in front of union-busting businesses and companies. The brainchild of artist Jeffrey Beebe and BravinLee Programs, the Trump likeness sports a "comb-over, unsightly eye bags, a long rat tail, confederate flag cufflinks and Russian Federation lapel pin," according to a Monday press release.
"The intent was to fabricate an inflatable Trump Rat and get it out into the world, keep it circulating, and loan it out to protests," organizers said. "We will inflate and position it in as many different locations that we are able."
- A rally is scheduled for outside Trump Tower from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday. The event looks to be one of the larger gatherings planned this week, with thousands "interested" on Facebook. "There is no apolitical reply to what happened in Charlottesville!" the event page states. "Choosing to ignore is a side!" (Another Facebook call to action outside Trump Tower, hosted by the group Political Revolution, has a full fifteen thousand interested attendees and is scheduled to kick off at 5:30.)
- A coalition of activist groups including the Working Families Party and VOCAL NY have also organized a "funeral procession" to greet Trump outside of Trump Tower from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. Participants are encouraged to wear black, and to "bring candles, pictures, and symbols of the people, beings, and things Trump is killing." The group will assemble at 58th Street and 5th Avenue.
- A third rally is scheduled to take place outside Trump Tower from 4:30 p.m to 8 p.m., this one focused on the president's "irresponsible statements about war."
- Meanwhile, a pro-Trump crowd is planning to "greet our hometown hero" at 57th and 5th Avenue from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., according to Facebook.
- Uptown, Washington Heights and Inwood residents and elected officials will rally "to protest the racist and xenophobic incidents that occurred this past weekend," as well as Trump's "tepid" response. Protesters will gather at Bennett Park, Fort Washington Avenue at West 184th Street, at 6:30 p.m..
- Tomorrow, August 15th, marks the five year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama legacy that protects children who immigrate to the United States from deportation for two years, with the option to renew. Major NYC immigrant organizations will rally in Midtown on Tuesday evening to defend the program, as well as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which offers protection and work permits to immigrants from countries in duress, including Haiti. Both programs have been criticized by the Trump administration. Groups including the New York Immigration Coalition and Make The Road New York will gather at 52nd Street and 5th Avenue near Trump Tower at 5:00 p.m.
All told, Trump Tower will be the focal point of actions this week. If yesterday is any indication, protesters in the thousands will be met with a labyrinth of barricades for blocks around the tower.
Drivers will also be met with roadblocks. According to an updated NYPD traffic advisory issued Monday, the following closures will be in effect from noon Monday through Wednesday: 58th Street between Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue; 56th Street between Sixth Avenue to Madison Avenue; 55th Street from Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue.
"While this is not his first visit back to New York City, it is the first time he's staying at his residence in Trump Tower. We've prepared accordingly," said NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez at an unrelated event on Monday. "We've met with Secret Service. We prepared a sizeable detail... to ensure the area around Trump Tower is safe and secure with minimal disruption to vehicular and pedestrian traffic."
Starting at 7:00 p.m., the NYPD will also be instating bus and vehicle checkpoints around Trump Tower. According to Gomez, "We’ll be boarding the buses, inspecting them, before they proceed down Fifth Avenue.... They will be random. We’ll be checking inside the vehicle and the trunk before they’re allowed to proceed down Fifth."
"We're prepared for anything that happens," he added. "The detail is fluid."
Check back for updates.