Hours before President Trump was set to return to his home at Trump Tower in Manhattan for the first time since the inauguration, over a thousand protesters gathered along Fifth Avenue to let the sitting president know that he was not welcome in New York City.
The protest, originally set to be against Trump's escalating rhetoric against North Korea, took a new meaning after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA that left one woman dead and 19 injured in a car attack. Frustrated at Trump's 48-hour delay in condemning white nationalists, people descended on Midtown Manhattan and filled the air with a familiar chant: "No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!"
In the crowd was Dominique Danielle Dixon, a 25-year-old freelance web designer. As a Black woman from Louisiana, Dixon told Refinery29 she was disheartened by the events in Charlottesville and Trump's lackluster response.
"The whole thing is terrifying. They're not wearing masks. These are not hillbilly people from rural north Louisiana or Mississippi. These are real people making real decisions in our day to day lives," she said. "They're loan officers, they're hiring managers, they're tangible real people who walk around in suits and who went to good schools and talk the right way and walk the right way. It's scary."
She added, "Watching [Trump not disavow white nationalism until today] was incredibly disappointing but it was also terrifying. It should not be difficult. And they took [Trump's silence] as an endorsement, as sort of a quiet nod and a thumbs up. It was racist, but it was also straight up anti-Semitic."
Monday's protest was far from Dixon's first. Over the last couple of years, she's been active in protesting for labor rights, sex workers' rights, and in the Black Lives Matter movement, among others. But she said after the election, she felt hopeless. Dixon asked herself what was the point of fighting for civil rights if a "bombastic, rich, 'I'm-one-of-you candidate' actually managed to put the wool over the eyes over so many American eyes."
She skipped the Women's March, but since then has picked herself back up. Dixon said she calls her representatives in Louisiana and New York, writes letters, and donates as much as she can whenever she can. She continues to fight for things like women's rights and LGBTQ rights, but is also worried by those who believe Trump will be able to resuscitate a dying industry such as coal mining.
"It's not the liberal issues. He is straight up screwing up his base in an economic way," she said. "And when they feel economically screwed over, they're not lashing out against him so much as they're lashing out against immigrants, against minorities. It's pretty much fascism 101."
But people like Florencia Giordano got a little more creative. With Beyoncé's iconic "middle fingers up" and the phrase "Boy, bye," the 28-year-old immigrant from Argentina told Refinery29 she came to protest all the "ridiculousness."
"It's incredible and unacceptable that this is happening in this country," she said.
The recent events have taken a toll on Giordano, like on so many of the other people who came to the area surrounding Trump Tower. But she said immigration remains the single most important issue for her. She's a naturalized citizen, but understands how broken the immigration system is and how dangerous it is for President Trump to support legislative efforts to even curb legal immigration.
"I am an immigrant in this country and I think everyone should have the same opportunity. I was privileged enough to get citizenship in a normal amount of years. And I know how hard it can be," she said. "It feels like all the stars need to align for you to get through the whole process, so it's really important for everyone to be able to look for a better life for themselves."
But at the heart of the protest were the events that took place in Charlottesville. A 30-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told Refinery29 she had come to the protest because that's her hometown.
She said she's been protesting the Trump administration since the inauguration, but Monday's gathering took a new meaning after the weekend.
"[We saw] that side of hate made possible. Everyone feels like they can show their hatred because of this terrible regime," she said. The woman added that her siblings were at the counter-protests in Charlottesville, so she knew firsthand how much violence there was, and she said that she would remain in the Trump Tower protest as long as it felt safe.
Still, for her, the reason she was coming to protest President Trump was simple: "It felt important that I be here today."