NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Several hundred demonstrators gathered in Manhattan on Saturday to protest Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, marching from one skyscraper that bears his name to another.
The protesters, that included immigrants’ rights activists, students and socialists, gathered in Columbus Circle near the Trump International Hotel and Tower. They then marched across Central Park South to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue where Trump lives before returning to Columbus Circle for a rally.
“I think Donald Trump is speaking a message of fascism and racism, and I don’t think that’s good for America,” said Laura Merrill, a tour guide who supports Democratic Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.
There was a heavy police presence for the largely peaceful protest, and officers used megaphones to warn demonstrators to stay on the sidewalk, out of the streets and not to impede foot traffic.
At least two protesters were arrested for walking in the street. A group of demonstrators that tried to break through a police barricade was pushed back by officers, who used pepper spray.
Protester Redentor Tarona, who marched as a member of a Filipino-American youth organization, said no one there wanted to promote violence.
“We are showing the power of people,” Tarona said.
Some protesters at the event told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman that they couldn’t believe Trump has come this far in the election and that they believe his rhetoric is divisive and racist.
“We’re here because Donald Trump is the antithesis of what America stands for,” one Westchester man said.
“Donald Trump is a danger to America,” a man told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas. “If nobody stands up and be counted, our country’s democracy will be taken away from us.”
“We gotta make sure we get out and vote and make sure our voices are heard,” another protester from Manhattan said.
Demonstrators chanted “Donald Trump, go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay” and “Immigrants are welcome here. Don’t give in to racist fear.”
Others carried signs that read “Love Trumps Hate.” Another read “Will trade 1 Donald Trump for 25,000 refugees.”
There were some Trump supporters at the rally that were heckled, but the protest remained peaceful, Liebman reported.
The protest was organized by political group Cosmopolitan Antifascists.
“Trump’s policies threaten many of us in the Black, Latino, LGBTQIA+, Muslim, and other communities,” the group said in a Facebook post for the protest. “These policies and type of speech has no place in this country, and certainly does not have a place in the city that Trump grew his empire in — a city known as a melting pot and home for many of the same people Trump continues to wage war on.
The protest was backed by several activism groups, including ICE-FREE NYC, International Women’s Day Coalition, Millions March NYC, Queer DEtainee Empowerment Project, Revolutionaries Against Gendered Oppression Everywhere [RAGE], among others.
Also Saturday, about two dozen protesters in Phoenix blocked a highway where Trump staged a campaign rally, blocking traffic for miles before marching to the rally site.
The protesters parked their cars in the middle of the road, unfurling banners with anti-Trump slogans and chanting “Trump is hate.” The disruption caused a lengthy traffic backup, and drivers honked their horns in frustration.
Trump has spoken often from the dais of wanting to punch a protester in the face, carrying protesters out on stretchers and deeming some Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally as “rapists” and “criminals.”
He has said he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and it’s risky to take in Syrian refugees because terrorists could be among them.
Meanwhile, Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich battled over who has the best chance to stop Trump, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“A vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump,” Cruz said.
“I’m out to change things and fight for people who don’t have a voice and they don’t like it,” Kasich said.
Arizona’s upcoming primary is the largest winner-take-all contest left for the GOP.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)