Several dozen men and women braved a snowy Saturday afternoon in Manhattan to join the #MeToo movement, aimed at showing how prevalent sexual assault and harassment is in society.
They huddled near Columbus Circle, chanting “no more” and holding signs — one bright pink and calling to “break the chains,” another calling President Donald Trump the “Sexual Predator-in-Chief.”
For two hours, they defied the freezing weather, standing behind barricades along Central Park West — across from Trump International Hotel and Towers.
“The alarm has rung and you cannot un-ring the bell,” Aryn Quinn, founder of the nonprofit End Abuse 4 Good, said to cheers from the crowd. “We have shone a light on abuse, and we cannot un-see what we have all seen. Today is the beginning of your freedom.”
Following the rally, many of the protesters entered the Columbus Circle subway station and placed sticky notes on the walls with messages like “you are strong” and “stand together.” NYPD officers promptly removed them, citing MTA regulations.
The rally was the dream of its two organizers, Connie Vasquez and Annmarie Haubert, who were brought together by the viral #MeToo hashtag and only met face-to-face days before.
The event was held less than a week after Time magazine named the #MeToo movement as the most influential “person” of 2017, and on the heels of dozens of women accusing high-profile men — from politicians to Hollywood producers — of sexual assault, harassment or rape.
Vasquez, 57, a Manhattan lawyer and survivor of sexual abuse, was visibly emotional as she scanned the crowd, calling the scene “really beautiful.”
“One little hashtag, #MeToo, and there’s some much solidarity and strength together, and we can turn to each other and . . . support each other,” she said. “Look at this: On a snowy day, this many people are here.”
Turnout, however, was much less than expected, with organizers hopeful that several thousand might show up.
Despite the fact that the rally was held in front of the Trump tower, Vasquez said it was about more than current politics.
“Today is not about Donald Trump,” she said. “It’s way more than Donald Trump.”
For Robert Ayers, 64, of Brooklyn, snow wasn’t going to stop him from supporting the cause.
“It was either [take] my sign or an umbrella, and I never considered an umbrella,” Ayers said. “A lot of men are also appalled by what the #MeToo movement has uncovered and made apparent.”
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women-New York, said everyone is affected by sexual harassment and assault.
“What I’m hoping in this #MeTo’ movement is it rolls into a #NotMeToo movement,” she said.