NYU Student Organizes Love Rally in the Park

Jemima McEvoy and Natasha Roy

The saga of rallies in and of NYU as a response to Donald Trump’s election continued on Friday with the Love Rally in Washington Square Park. Gallatin sophomore Sydney Miller organized the event garnering over 10,000 responses on Facebook.

“I just thought there has to be a way to show these people that just because we elected this man, doesn’t mean we don’t love them or that the country is going to reject them or abandon them,” Miller said. “Over time it became bigger than that — now it’s a way for everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, to accept all those people.”

Miller said she organized the event in response to the disheartened reactions of the people around her and that the Love Rally gained much more traction than she originally anticipated. She thought it would only garner the attention of NYU students, but people throughout New York City wanted to attend, including Trump supporters.

Miller permitted their attendance, and when she said that people of all ideologies were welcome, she received backlash on the rally’s Facebook page. Miller said that while she understands why people are against this decision, she believes it is important to spread the message that not every person who voted for Trump wants to invalidate the rights of those who feel marginalized by his rhetoric.

“The most important thing to me is to show these groups that Trump has targeted to show that the country didn’t vote against them, that they haven’t voted to take away their rights,” Miller said. “To have Trump supporters show up and say ‘I support your rights even though I voted this way’ is actually really important to me and I think it’s really important to the future of
this country.”

The rally began next to the Washington Square Arch where, after a short introduction from Miller, protesters passed around a megaphone and recounted their experiences of discrimination for the crowd.

When protesters began to chant “not my president” and “hands too small, can’t build wall,” Miller tried refocusing the rally to supporting diverse communities and using love to combat hate. However, the crowd continued chanting, and half the protesters began marching towards Sixth Avenue.

Tisch freshman Claudia Davis said that she decided to attend the rally, since she believed it was a good forum for people to unify. She agreed with Miller’s decision to allow Trump supporters at the rally.

“I don’t want to pigeon-hole Trump supporters as these hateful, scornful people,” Davis said. “I think that a lot of them support social causes that Democrats do but they just chose to vote for him for other reasons and they also want to unify.”

She said that this has been a tough week, but that events like the Love Rally in the Park ignite feelings of hope that could help people get through the next four years unscathed.

Steinhardt junior Teddy Ryles said that Miller’s decision to allow Trump supporters at the rally was important, since people with different political views should not be stigmatized.

“I think it is closed-minded to assume that every Trump supporter is a racist, a homophobe or a xenophobic individual,” Ryles said. “People start to assume the only thing Trump supporters want to do is to create discriminatory divides across the country, when in fact, many people who voted for him actually did so because they feel that our political and economic system has rejected them; a lot of the things we are exposed to are filtered and lack the neutrality that should be given to the public.”

Tisch alum Rebecca Faulkner and her two children and many other families also attended the rally. She said that after hearing the election results, she has attended rallies and protests all week, and this was the first time she brought her two daughters to attend as well: 11-year-old Isabel and seven-year-old Sophie.

“Really, I’m here for my kids, and I’m here for all the Americans that didn’t want this result and don’t feel that Trump represents us,” Faulkner said. “I became a U.S. citizen two weeks ago, so I could vote for many years after living here. I feel like it’s really important that we’re all here and we’re all speaking out.”

Isabel hoped that attending rallies will create change in future elections.

“I think part of the reason we came here is because — well, most of the reason, actually — is because next election, I think more people that were not voting for anyone will vote for whoever will be the next Democrat,” she said. “Also, like my mom said, we came to express the anger and have other people that feel the same way that you can talk to.”

Though the crowd’s chanting of “bridges not walls,” “pussy grabs back” and “my body, my choice” deterred Miller’s original vision of the event, Miller said that she hopes people feel unity after the Love Rally.

“What I’m hoping will come of this event is, first of all, reassurance for the people who feel like they are being betrayed and for the people that feel unsafe — affirmation that this country is not rejecting them and this country does love them,” Miller said. “Just some form of coming together and understanding that we can, regardless of any differences, work together to prevent something negative from happening to this country.”

Email Jemima McEvoy and Natasha Roy at [email protected]