De Blasio goes Hollywood in anti-Trump rally

Jeff Coltin

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined silver screen celebrities for a collective call to action Thursday night outside a Trump-branded building, continuing to use President-Elect Donald Trump as a political foil just one day before the presidential inauguration.

“Tomorrow, Donald Trump will have power,” de Blasio said. “But tomorrow, you will have power as well. Donald Trump may control the agenda in Washington but we control our destiny as Americans!”

The event was billed as a “pledge to build a coalition focused on protecting the rights of people and the environment,” and de Blasio listed a number of actions those at the rally could do, like encouraging other New Yorkers to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, or to report any bias crimes that they see.

The mayor also encouraged New Yorkers to sign up for IDNYC. De Blasio has continued to push the municipal identification cards despite the city currently being in a legal dispute over its right to purge all cardholders information out of fears the incoming Trump administration could use it to find undocumented immigrants.

The event featured a high-profile guest list. Actors Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, Rosie Perez and Julianne Moore were just a few to take the stage. Recent Golden Globe-winner Sarah Paulson was observed standing in the crowd some two blocks from the stage. From the political world, New York City first lady Chirlane McCray spoke, as did City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Union leaders like DC37’s Henry Garrido and RWDSU’s Stuart Appelbaum also took to the dais.

The event was a highly-organized, establishment response to the impending inauguration, standing in contrast to grassroots rallies at Columbus Circle in the wake of the election and other acts of civil disobedience and marches planned for the days around the inauguration. With the stage set up on Central Park West and crowds contained within metal barriers north along that road, traffic seemed to be flowing normally all night at the busy Columbus Circle. The same could not be said of Trump International Hotel & Tower. With its main entrance completely blocked off to car traffic, a bellhop was observed pushing a cart full of bags down a busy Broadway.

Many in the large crowd – more than 20,000, according to the actress Shailene Woodley in her speech – held signs and cheered throughout the cold night. But despite the event’s forward-looking nature, the loudest and most sustained cheers may have come after a line from de Blasio: “Let’s all thank Barack Obama for all he done for this nation.”