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Hundreds protest Senate tax overhaul, Trump in Manhattan

Protesters gathered Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, outside Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street in Manhattan, where President Trump was to appear at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign.   (Credit: Steven Sunshine; Nicole Fuller)

President Donald Trump was greeted by hundreds of protesters outside a midtown Manhattan restaurant where he headlined a fundraiser on Saturday, hours after the Senate Republicans’ nearly $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed a crucial vote.

The demonstrators, organized by the New York State Democratic party and labor unions representing teachers and health care workers, held signs decrying both the Senate’s passage of the tax bill early Saturday and changes to Obamacare. Some chanted “Corporate greed has got to go!” and “New York hates you, lock him up!” as a man played the drums.

Trump attended the morning fundraiser for his re-election campaign at Cipriani on 42nd Street, across from Grand Central Terminal. In addition to the $1,000-a-ticket Cipriani fundraiser, Trump attended two other functions on the Upper East Side — a luncheon at The Pierre hotel near Central Park, and another event at a private residence, according to The Associated Press. The fundraisers benefited the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election committee.

Barricades and scores of NYPD officers lined 42nd Street, which was closed in sections to traffic. City sanitation trucks were parked outside the restaurant as a security buffer.

Protesters were kept across the street, outside Grand Central, where they chanted and waved signs, including “GOP tax scam,” for about three hours. An NYPD spokeswoman said there were no arrests.

Lisa Goldberg, a private-school teacher from Manhattan, said she joined the protest because she believes the tax bill was approved without enough public discussion of its provisions.

“These are exactly the people that will benefit from the tax cut,” said Goldberg, 43, pointing to fundraiser attendees waiting to get inside. “It’s satisfying to show our rage in general, but to these people in particular.”

Some fundraiser attendees could be seen filming the protesters on their cellphones, but barricades prevented reporters from interviewing them.

Geoff Berman, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, said in an email urging supporters to attend the protest: “We are fighting against attacks on our health care system, a tax plan that gives millions to corporations at the expense of the middle class, and politics that threaten Dreamers, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, workers and many more.”

Holly Dannunzio, in the city from Seattle for business, had planned to spend her day Christmas shopping, but after hearing the protest chants from inside her hotel room, she instead made a small sign that read “Believe in truth” and “GOP=Gangster” and joined the rally, she said.

“The whole thing was designed to give corporations tax cuts . . . it benefits the top tenth of 1 percent the most, so it’s the very, very wealthy that get the most benefit,” said Dannunzio, a self-described independent voter who works in finance. “And who knows what they threw in it last night,” she said of the tax bill.

Trump also had fans who gathered outside to see him.

Jessi Byrd, a hairstylist and makeup artist from Dothan, Alabama, was going with her family to see the Rockettes perform, but stopped in time to see the president’s motorcade depart. “It was absolutely awesome,” said Byrd, 23, moments after it passed.

Byrd said she voted for Trump and was pleased the tax bill was on the verge of becoming law. “It’s going to be good,” she said. “He’s done a lot in the first 10 months of his presidency.”

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