Inside the 4-star Grand Hyatt New York on Thursday evening, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the New York state Republican Gala, a high-status, black tie fundraising dinner that costs $1,000 to attend.
Outside the hotel, thousands of people are scheduled to protest the event — with the explicit intention of shutting it down. The demonstration is free to the general public.
We intend to do what the city’s elected so-called leaders refuse to do — and shut down Trump from spreading his hateful message.
“Trump’s rhetoric is an instigation to racist, anti-migrant and misogynist violence,” said Kalisa Moore, part of the Stop Trump Coalition, in an emailed statement previewing the protest. “As a matter of self-defense and protection of New Yorkers, we intend to do what the city’s elected so-called leaders refuse to do — and shut down Trump from spreading his hateful message.”
Only one protest has ever successfully “shut down” a Trump event. That was last month, when the number of demonstrators both inside and outside Trump’s University of Illinois-Chicago rally overwhelmed the event, prompting him to cancel it. Afterward, Trump complained that his First Amendment right to free speech had been infringed, though many pointed out that the First Amendment only protects private citizens from interference from the government.
Trump is certainly no stranger to protests — both in New York City and beyond. They most often pop up at his rallies, where his thousands of supporters usually overwhelm demonstrators with competing chants and, sometimes, physical violence.
But Thursday’s protest will be a bit different. For one, it’s taking place outside of an event that’s not solely about Donald Trump. Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are also scheduled to speak at the gala, which is taking place just five days before New York state’s primary election. So Trump will likely not enjoy insulation from the usual brand of raucous, die-hard Trump-defenders who attend his rallies.
The protest is also not taking place in one designated area, but just generally around Grand Central Terminal at around 5:30 p.m., the peak of rush hour traffic at arguably the most congested public transportation spot in Manhattan. So while protesters may not feel the pressure of Trump supporters, they could clash with commuters and residents trying to get to their trains. An official from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office told ThinkProgress that the event organizers had not yet applied for a permit, which would ensure an official effort to re-route street or pedestrian traffic around crowds.
Just how many protesters will attend Thursday’s event remains to be seen. Multiple Facebook event pages have popped up since last week; the main one, Shut Down Trump in NYC, has more than 2,000 confirmed attendees. Another one, entitled Protest Donald Trump at the NY State Republican Gala, boasts about 1,300 people. Other, smaller groups with specific interests — like the StayWoQ convergence of woman and queers — also have protest event pages.
We need to show him what really will make America great: $15 and union rights.
“We should all be there to protest Trump’s racism, his Islamaphobia [sic], and his homophobia,” Facebook commenter Carol Lang wrote on one of the many event pages. “We should all be worried that the U.S. could be headed in a fascist direction affecting all of us not just the people he, and the entire ruling class, is singling out.”
Indeed, the protests seem to be motivated by a general abhorrence of Trump’s often racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The group organizing the protest — the Stop Trump Coalition — is made up of “students, Muslim groups, migrants’ rights groups and members of New York’s Black Lives Matter movement,” according to an emailed press release.
But it’s not just about Trump’s rhetoric. The group Fight for $15, which advocates for a $15 minimum wage, is also bringing its own contingent of demonstrators to New York City on Thursday. They noted that Trump is against raising the minimum wage at all, and even once called current wages in America “too high.”
“We need to show him what really will make America great: $15 and union rights,” the group said on its event page for the protest.
As of Monday, it was unclear whether the New York City Police Department had allocated an increased number of officers to monitor the scheduled demonstration. A spokesperson from the NYPD did not return ThinkProgress’ requests for comment.
Trump currently has a commanding lead in New York’s Republican primary, with the most recent polls showing him about 30 percentage points above his closest competitor.
This post has been updated to include new information from the New York City mayor’s office.