New Yorkers still coping with post-Trump shock

By AFP/Thomas Urbain   November 24, 2016 | 06:42 pm PT
'It's a comparable feeling to 9/11.'

Donald Trump's election jolted liberal America, but perhaps nowhere more than in his native New York, where city-dwellers are processing their woe with everything from yoga to body art to demonstrations.

Many residents of the cosmopolitan cultural mosaic -- where 79 percent of voters backed Democrat Hillary Clinton, are horrified by the Republican's harsh stances on issues including immigration and abortion.

Trump's upset win struck the city like a bombshell, leaving a trail of anxiety and anger.

"It's pretty depressing. It's very sad," said Brian Bumby as he penned a message on a Post-it note and tacked it to a wall alongside thousands of others inside New York's Union Square subway station -- which has become a place of pilgrimage for the dejected since November 8.

"It's a comparable feeling to 9/11."

New York's Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, echoed that sentiment on Monday, saying: "There's still for so many a sense of shock, a sense of confusion."

Shiro Aoki, who works at the Fun City Tattoo parlor in Manhattan's eclectic East Village, says six people have come in for an election-related tattoo -- one of them reading "Fuck Trump."

Others are dulling the pain with yoga: several studios and meditation centers have offered post-election sessions in recent days.

"What's going to happen to our freedom?"

Psychiatrist Edward Ratush has discussed the vote with many of his patients, a number of whom were upset.

"It's been an election-centric week for sure," he said of his mostly young clientele. "Many were asking 'What's going to happen to our country? What's going to happen to freedom?'"

Being a minority, whether ethnic or sexual, has heightened the alarm felt by many of those who opposed the hard-charging billionaire businessman.

"Just like the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, the election of Donald Trump will change America as we know it," said Reverend Calvin Butts, a pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

He recently met with young children at the Thurgood Marshall Lower School, a public elementary school in culturally vibrant Harlem, at the request of its principal.

Post-election, Butts said, "they are traumatized. They're asking questions like, 'Is Donald Trump an evil man? Will my parents be taken away from me? Why is everybody seeming so scared?'

"Our children are frightened."

Post-election venom

New York has not been spared the recent rise in racist acts.

Hate crimes have spiked 31 percent this year, according to James O'Neill, the city's police commissioner, a trend he called "disturbing."

The surge has been observed "specifically against the Muslim population." He vowed to prosecute perpetrators under hate crimes statutes, he said.

"There's been a lot of rhetoric, but this is New York City, and we're much better than that," he added.

A special help line has been set up to take calls from those who feel threatened.

At least 300 people, including Beastie Boys singer Adam Horovitz, protested in New York recently against what they said were hate crimes inspired by Trump's election after swastikas appeared in a Brooklyn park.

City workers quickly painted over the graffiti, and by Sunday the defaced areas had been covered with flowers, hearts and messages of love.

After the mass protests in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, one of which drew some 10,000 demonstrators, anti-Trump rallies continue to crop up throughout the city.

Many people are already preparing to mobilize for the "Women's March on Washington" slated for January 21, the day after Trump's inauguration.

Giving thanks, talking politics

Pockets of red do exist in New York's sea of blue. Many of the city's Trump supporters were also surprised -- pleasantly so -- that their candidate won.

"It was kind of shocking," said Andrew Dietsch, a 30-year-old hairdresser in New York's Staten Island -- the city's bastion of Republicanism -- who did not vote despite his support for the real-estate magnate.

Like across the country, many New Yorkers -- whatever their camp -- were struggling to understand those on the other side, bracing for an awkward Thanksgiving holiday with relatives on Thursday.

"I'm sure we will not discuss politics," says Bumby, a Democrat who will spend the day in New York with his conservative family members.

He said he was not sure if they voted for Trump, adding: "I don't want to ask. I don't want to know."

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