New York City protests the landmark overturn of Roe v. Wade
New York, New York - New Yorkers came out in droves on Friday to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to now make abortion illegal. TAG24 NEWS was live on the ground for the landmark moment in the nation's history, filled with New York grit, grief, humor, and humanity.
Washington Square Park in NYC was flooded with handmade signs and thousands of galvanized gatherers at 6:30 PM EST, after Friday morning's Supreme Court decision marked the most significant blow to women's rights in almost 50 years.
"No such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision," five of the court's conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – wrote in a 5-4 majority opinion. Half of US states are on track to quickly enforce laws that outlaw most abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or potential fatal health issues to the mother during pregnancy.
"Free and safe abortions for all!" the NYC crowd chanted in unison.
A pair of 27-year-old best friends described the overwhelming feeling of being among the demonstrators, who heard passionate speeches from organizers over a loudspeaker before marching uptown to convene for another rally in Union Square Park at 8 PM.
"It's cool to be part of something that is bigger than you," the protester told TAG24. "There's so many people out here to support us, so that's pretty cool to see."
"It's beautiful to see that all these people are out here for the same reason," her friend chimed in. "But I think it's even more beautiful because we're in New York. New York might not be terribly affected by this decision, but that just shows how much people here care for other people."
Despite local lawmakers reassuring New Yorkers their abortion access would not be affected in the state, city residents still took to the streets.
They also added their signature rough-and-tough take, showing the "New York Strong" streak is alive and well.
New Yorkers get tough on abortion access for all
Creative and colorful homemade signs sailed above the sea of abortion rights supporters, ranging in age from Gen Zers to activists who saw the crucial Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 which deemed abortion a federally protected right.
Thembi Arnold, a mother who was protesting with her young daughter and family, was passing on the message to the next generation with her own humorous spin.
"My coochie, my choice," she shouted, while holding up a matching sign.
"Say it Mona," she instructed her toddler. "And anybody got a problem with it? Come see my coochie."
At points, the crowd directed anger and blame at specific Supreme Court justices, hurling chants of "F**k you, Clarence," "Brett," and "Amy" interchangeably.
Autumn Faulkner was fired up as she spoke to TAG24 after a heated exchange with a male attendee who apparently was not in support of the abortion advocates gathered – a rare outlier.
"I'm shaking. That guy got me so angry," she said. "I believe that until we get what we need, we take away what they want. That's the reason why I have this sign: 'No sex with men until Roe v. Wade is protected.'"
Her sentiment was echoed by more signs that didn't hold back. "Abort the court," "America hates women and girls," "Not your f***ing incubator," and "Forced pregnancy is female enslavement" waved amongst giant coat hangers – a stark reminder of the unsafe practices of illegal abortions of the past, now a possibility once again.
NYC protesters hold on to hope
Yet, not everyone in the crowd was from New York.
"We [were in NYC and] happened to be reading about another SCOTUS decision this morning, the gun one, which is only gonna lead to more deaths. Then we saw Roe v. Wade.
"So we grabbed this pizza box out of the trash [to make a sign] and we just showed up here," she said. "F**k SCOTUS."
Hickson also said she'd heard that women scheduled for abortions later on Friday in her new hometown of New Orleans had already been turned away after the SCOTUS decision that morning.
"Resources like the New Orleans Abortion Fund need help now more than ever," she explained. "Our bodies, our choice."
Overall, the feeling in the New York park was one of connection, sorrow, and for many, still some hope. As marchers headed uptown, one protester reflected on moving onwards and upwards, both literally and figuratively.
"Today was hard. It was tough," she said as she continued walking. "But it feels really good to be in community. Because this fight is not over. I got a lot of fight left."
Cover photo: TAG24 / Lena Grotticelli