As protestors in Washington D.C. smashed Starbucks windows and lit garbage cans on fire, about 30 Ithacans decimated a President Donald Trump piñata and offered free coffee, tea and snacks to passers-by in Dewitt Park.
The Ithaca branch of Food Not Bombs, an international, decentralized organization that offers free, vegan meals, organized the “Anti-Inauguration Day Assembly” downtown.
The head of the Trump piñata — filled with vegan candy and hanging between two trees in the park — was quickly decapitated, and some protesters placed it over their own heads and posed for selfies with friends. Another pierced the head, which was covered in gold-colored strands from the end of a mop, with a large stick.
In addition to taking turns ripping into the piñata, the organizers also formed a “free market” of used goods and passed out books, cookies and more.
Luke Bonnet, a Food Not Bombs organizer who provides vegan meals to Ithacans every Saturday in Dewitt Park, said Trump assuming office could be a “catalyzing moment” for resistance groups.
“It’s important to have public spaces for people to organize and talk about radical issues and, at this point, I feel like it’s a big opportunity for resistance to come into the mainstream because it’s such an important moment for people,” he said.
Bonnet and Peter Diebold began planning the event a few weeks ago, after considering what could be done to cheer the spirits of Tompkins County residents, who cast nearly 16,000 more ballots for Hillary Clinton than Trump.
Michael Cooke, who brought a wireless router, a “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” plush doll and a Hans Solo bobblehead to the free market, said he was worried about Trump’s policies regarding the LGBTQ community.
“I’m a gay person and every person he nominated is against my rights,” he said. “Or even more than against my rights, they’re for me going to jail for expressing my sexuality.”
Cooke also said he was frustrated by Trump’s false claim on Twitter that “millions of people” voted illegally in the November election.
“It would be one thing if he accepted [his loss of the popular vote] with humility,” Cooke said. “Instead of reasonable he opted for delusional, which is scary.”
As the event picked up locals who were strolling along Cayuga Street, Kat Anible and her four-year-old son, Dimitri, passed out pink, plastic flowers to the attendees, some of whom tucked them behind ears or in their hair.
Bonnet said he hopes the free marketplace — which also included plates, bowls and dozens of books — could become a staple of the weekly Food Not Bombs stands in Ithaca.
“This is probably one of the most disastrous things that has ever happened in politics,” Bonnet said, emphasizing what he sees as an increased need for people to be generous and create friendly spaces in the city.
Cameron Pollack ‘18 contributed reporting to this story.