Experts: Strength in Numbers

By Breanna Williams and Benjamin Long

Since Donald Trump’s election as president, New Yorkers have hit the streets, the parks and airports to protest his policies. People of all backgrounds  have been swept up in this outpouring of protest. Tens of thousands of people joined New York’s  Women’s March on Jan. 21 and celebrities such as filmmaker Michael Moore and actor Alec Baldwin spoke at another gathering outside the Trump International Hotel in  Columbus Circle.

Bodega owners went on strike to protest Trump’s travel ban while lawyers worked pro-bono at John F. Kennedy Airport to offer advice to those affected by the ban . At Battery Park, thousands of people joined a “#NoBanNoWall” protest with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, the president’s New York home and office, itself  has been a target of daily protesting.

Political observers say participation in these demonstrations is a way for New Yorkers to express their views about the president and  to find strength in the company of like-minded others.

“There is a power to it when you do it with other people who feel the same way,” said David Jones, chair of the Political Science Department at Baruch College.

Describing the protest experience as something similar to a concert, Jones said participants experience  “solidarity” with one another, singing the same song together in sync.

Jones said  protests are most effective if people are focused on a concrete policy or act, such as the Trump administration’s executive order, since blocked by the courts,  banning entry of people from seven mainly Muslim countries.

“If you can’t articulate A, B or C, it is hard for that movement to have an effect,” Jones said.

But Gerasimos Karavitis,  a political science professor at Baruch, said sometimes protesters are not looking to necessarily bring about change. Protests are for people “who need to express themselves, regardless of whether this expression will have an immediate impact,” he said.

Karavitis said he had observed a  galvanizing effect that the protests have had  on New York City. “They contribute to the preservation of a critical consciousness in the city,” he said. “And this is important.”

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