NEW YORK – As the number of women accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault rose to 10 over the weekend, several dozen women gathered in front of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan on Monday to express their anger and also their determination that the Republican presidential nominee won’t set back efforts to combat sexual harassment.
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At the 8 A.M. protest, New York lawyer Letitia Davis said the message was that whether in a beauty pageant, on an airplane, in an elevator or anywhere else, such alleged conduct would not be tolerated.
Other demonstrators carried signs accusing Trump of denigrating women.
Julie Kushner of the United Auto Workers union said sexual harassment is a major hurdle facing women in the workplace.
Over the past 40 years, she added, she has witnessed a tremendous amount of progress in that regard, but remained concerned that Trump could set back those efforts by decades.
As the protesters began to disperse, male and female Trump supporters arrived and began remonstrating with the handful of remaining demonstrators.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who has recently been on a media blitz as more and more women have gone public with allegations of sexual assault against Trump, also arrived at Trump Tower.
Conway evaded reporters’ questions regarding the allegations, saying instead that anyone who reads the newspapers knows that the election is being rigged in favor of Trump’s Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.
Trump is excited about Wednesday evening’s final televised debate between the two candidates, added Conway, who posed to have her picture taken with Trump supporters in front of the building.
One of Trump’s Jewish supporters, Isaac Yellin, was among the group on hand. He insisted that the sexual allegations leveled against his candidate were not the most important issue.
The main thing, Yellin said, was that there be peace in the world. Israel, he added, can’t manage without the United States, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been receiving hostile treatment from President Barack Obama.
Anti-Trump demonstrator Tara Sweeney, who lingered at the entrance to Trump Tower after most of the other protesters had left, said she knew what she would tell Trump if he were to come out and talk to the protesters.
She made reference to the recently disclosed 2005 tape of Trump recorded for “Access Hollywood,” in which he boasted in lewd terms about his ability to kiss and grope women because he was “a star.”
Trump later apologized and called the comments “locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.” But Sweeney said Trump needed to look American women in the eye and tell them what he really thinks. He’s not in a locker room, he’s not an athlete, but rather a presidential candidate, Sweeney added.
“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not,” Trump said in response the disclosure of the tape. “I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.”
But Jane Watson, a 72-year-old employee of the Clarksburg, West Virginia, police department, said she was sorry that she didn’t make it to Trump Tower in time for the protest. She also expressed dismay that the national Fraternal Order of Police had endorsed Trump for president.
Claiming that the Republican candidate didn’t represent law and order, Watson also said she didn’t accept that Trump is a different person from the one heard in 2005, and said she believes the women who are accusing him of sexual assault.
Unlike Sweeney, however, Watson said she wouldn’t approach Trump if he came out of the building, explaining that she wouldn’t want to be around him.