NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump was returning to Trump Tower for the first time since the inauguration late Monday, and protesters were gathering outside ahead of time.
As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, the protesters had no mission other than loudly voicing their anger at President Trump upon his arrival back in New York City. As of 11 p.m., police told CBS2 that three protesters had been arrested for disorderly conduct.
Thousands of demonstrators roared “shame, shame, shame” and “not my president!” while awaiting Trump’s motorcade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, but it ultimately approached from another direction. A far smaller crowd of Trump supporters also awaited him.
Onlookers who did see the motorcade greeted it with cellphone cameras and a few obscene gestures.
By the tower, some protesters carried signs with such messages as “impeach” and “the White House is no place for white supremacy” as chants including “love, not hate — that’s what makes America great” and “New York hates you!” echoed off the surrounding buildings. Nearby, an inflatable, rat-like caricature of Trump stood by The Plaza hotel.
“We want to stand up and say no more Charlottesville, no free speech for racists,” said protester Susan Schneider.
Reegan from Brooklyn said she came just for the chance that the president looks out his window onto the crowd.
“Show him every single one of his signs and tell him his days are numbered in the White House, and he will be removed from power sooner or later,” Reegan said.
Many protesters said deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia motivated them to come out to the protest, and they said it is more important now after the violence to speak their minds.
Smeltz asked Reegan whether she was concerned at all whether a similar car attack could happen right on Fifth Avenue.
“No, there’s more of us than there are of them,” she said. Maybe it’s false to feel safe in New York City, but I do. I mean, I know stuff can happen anywhere, but there are more of us, and you can see that.”
The Rev. Jan Powell, a retired minister of the United Church of Christ, carried a sign that read no justice, no peace” as she stood opposite Trump Tower.
She said she was bothered by the Republican president’s response to the white supremacist rally that descended into violence in Virginia. But “what bothers me the most is when folks like Trump try to silence our First Amendment right to free speech, either with violence or ‘fake news’ or hate speech,” Powell said.
Still, she said, “I pray for him every day. We are both human beings.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, was among the protesters.
Meanwhile, about two dozen Trump fans were in a separate pen near The Plaza, chanting “God bless President Trump” and carrying American flags and signs with such sentiments as “now is not the time for divisiveness.”
“Though we may be small in this bubble, they need to know we’re here,” said Shaun Jackson, a tax attorney who sees Trump as a populist shaking up Washington’s elite and the protesters as ignorant people with “a lot of hate.”
“They’ll call me a Nazi, but do you know that you’re acting like a Nazi by telling me to get off the street?” he said.
With supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators penned across the sidewalk, both sides yelled at each other, “Go home!”
A block south of Trump Tower, police officers with bullhorns confronted protesters pressing against and straining the barricades, telling the demonstrators to step back.
Protests were also held in Upper Manhattan Monday night.
“As a nation in crisis, we are more divided than ever,” city Public Advocate Letitia James said at the Upper Manhattan event.
“When we stand up, the nation looks to us,” said state Assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa (D-Manhattan), who represents Washington Heights and Inwood. “If we don’t stand up, history will look at us in disgust.”
The president landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday evening.
Trump first traveled Monday from Bedminster, New Jersey to Washington, where he signed an executive action on China’s trade practices Monday in the afternoon.
A few hours after arriving in Washington, Trump delivered a statement from the White House in response the Charlottesville attack over the weekend, in which authorities said an Ohio man plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters who’d gathered to oppose a rally by white nationalists and others.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday. “We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law and we are equal under our Constitution.”
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Trump’s definitive condemnation came after critics accused the president of not taking a tougher stand in his weekend remarks.
He responded the criticism Monday afternoon, saying, “They’ve been condemned, they’ve been condemned,” when asked why he did not condemn hate groups specifically over the weekend.
As New York awaited Trump’s return, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the NYPD had been working on its security plan with the Secret Service all weekend, and put it into action outside of Trump Tower all day.
Officers were swarming the block leading to the tower on Monday afternoon.
Metal police barricades were up well ahead of time on Fifth Avenue and Mayor Bill de Blasio is urged drivers to avoid the area around Trump Tower. In addition to metal fencing there were concrete barriers, and sanitation trucks filled with sand lined up on Fifth Ave in front of Tiffany’s and Gucci.
“Well be enforcing truck restrictions on Fifth Avenue starting at 7 p.m. Also instituting bus checkpoints at 7 p.m. We will be loading the buses, inspecting them before they proceed down Fifth Avenue as well as vehicle checkpoints at 7 p.m.” Chief Carlos Gomez said.
Street closures in the area had been expected to create a traffic nightmare in Midtown.
Fifty-eighth Street from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue, 56th Street between Sixth Avenue to Madison Avenue and 55th Street from Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue are closed to vehicular traffic for the duration of Trump’s visit, according to the NYPD.
Fifty-sixth Street from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue has “managed vehicular access,” and trucks are subject to search on Fifth Avenue at 60th Street.
“Increased congestion is anticipated and New Yorkers are encouraged to utilize public transportation whenever possible,” the NYPD said.
Bus schedules were expected to be affected; subways were running as usual.
De Blasio said the police were well-prepared for the president’s visit.
“The NYPD has proven clearly in the time up to the inauguration their ability to secure the president and his family, his team while keeping things moving in the surrounding neighborhood,” said de Blasio, who begins a weeklong vacation in Rhode Island Monday.
The president is expected to stay in the city until Wednesday.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)