New York City Prepares for Riots; Instead Hosts a Rave

by Caroline McCarthy, Staff Writer 

Faced with intense political turbulence, Manhattan businesses boarded windows in preparation for the 2020 presidential election results. What was predicted to be a day of rioting and destruction was instead a city-wide celebration when the Biden-Harris campaign was announced as the President and Vice President-Elect. 

Some Manhattan College students were among the thousands of other New Yorkers who flocked to popular locations in the city, including Washington Square Park and Times Square, for an impromptu celebration on Nov. 7. 

“It was one of those things that had been building up for the last four years, but really the last year and a half,” Jessica Solan, a senior communication major, said.  

Solan compared the feeling to a gigantic weight being lifted from her shoulders, making her want to celebrate alongside others who felt the same relief. 

“I don’t think it was a plan [to go to the city],” Solan said. “I think all of a sudden we were like ‘We need to celebrate.’”

Solan received word of the Biden-Harris victory via a Facetime call from her two best friends. To commemorate the moment, she blasted the Miley Cyrus hit “Party in the USA, made a patriotic-themed Tik Tok, and opened her window to hear the city’s reaction. 

Times Square and Washington Square Park became hubs for socially conscious, mask-wearing ralliers dancing in the fountain and flooding the streets with blue. Shouts of “USA! USA! USA!” and “Trump, you’re fired!” echoed through the city as neighborhood after neighborhood erupted in celebration. 

“It was like Pride plus BLM plus Fourth of July plus Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Solan said. 

Washington Square Park, which was built on land used to execute and bury slaves, was the central point of the celebration. Despite the history of and ongoing protests against racial inequality, the country elected the first Black, Asian, and woman Vice President. 

Some people played music from speakers, others had signs and others just took in the sights. According to senior Camryn Holly, one of the most lasting images of the day was when a man took out his trumpet and began playing the melody to “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” and the square echoed back with the popular chorus. 

Holly, who was in the West Village for a friend’s birthday lunch, did not expect to witness such a triumphant celebration.

“We were definitely keeping an eye on what was happening because we had said if someone is named the winner and there are riots and stuff like we were going to reschedule the lunch,” Holly said. “We only heard about one and we’re seeing videos online and people like dancing in the streets and stuff they’re like everyone’s just having a good time.”

Senior Ireland Twiggs also joined the celebration at the park after she too had the feeling of a “large cement block” being lifted off her shoulders. 

“The atmosphere was intoxicating, impossible not to feel or want to be a part of,” Twiggs said. “It was such a beautiful sight to see people waving the American flag and embracing what it meant to [be] American.”

Following President Trump’s frequent attacks on Twitter and in speeches against those who do not agree with his policies, many found a feeling of new patriotism as a new ticket was elected to the office. The division had many questioning if they were seen as treasonous for their political views, race, gender and ethnicity. 

The NYPD were peaceful observers throughout the festivities, observed to have only stepped in to keep the party-goers safe from traffic and overly rowdy participants. 

“I mean, they’re New Yorkers too,” Solan said. “I’d assume most of them had similar votes.” 

Businesses who prepared for the extreme civil unrest with heightened security were met with overwhelming joy, as some participants painted the boards protecting these storefronts with Biden-Harris flags and blue decorations. 

“I didn’t notice anyone being disrespectful to property or other people,” Twiggs said. “It was a celebration of happiness and no one was there to cause destruction. It definitely felt as though the measures were overcautious.”

Still, a different outcome may have warranted these precautions, as both the Republican and Democratic parties promised to not take this election lightly. In a year marked by a number of unique events — from the pandemic to a rise in social justice movements — this election was sure to be different than others before. 

“It could have been any other year I’m sure it still would have been happy and a celebration,” Holly said. “But I think given everything that everyone’s gone through this year it was especially nice to have that win.”