Outside Columbia’s gates, hundreds of students and community residents cheered, honked, sang, and danced to celebrate the victory of the projected president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. For many, it was the first presidential election they voted in.
The country’s four-day wait for the announcement of the president-elect came to an end as major news outlets called Pennsylvania for the former vice president at around noon on Saturday, securing Biden the 270 electoral votes needed to declare victory. According to the Associated Press, Biden is projected to hold 290 electoral votes at present.
As the news broke, Morningside Heights erupted in celebration, with many students and residents flooding the streets dressed in Biden-Harris gear, holding pro-Biden and anti-Trump signs, and cheering.
“I’ve attended protests before, but I’ve never felt a sense of community like this, especially around Columbia,” Nikhil Lahiri, CC ’22, said as cars honked and people yelled around him. “It really feels like people who have never met each other feel connected with each other and are celebrating.”
The results come four tense days after Election Day, after many crucial swing states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin, projected a victory for Biden, many by less than 1 percent. President Donald Trump’s campaign has launched multiple lawsuits claiming election fraud in many of these battleground states in an attempt to flip the projections.
Rafael Barcan, SEAS ’21, expressed his excitement at hearing results after days of anxious anticipation.
“It feels so good,” Barcan said. “We’ve been waiting like four days for these results, and now we know.”
The 2020 presidential election saw the proportionally highest-ever turnout since at least 1900.
Large-scale impromptu celebrations popped up across the city as well as the greater United States, despite rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the country. At many of these gatherings, there were thousands of people who did not follow social distancing measures. While presidential races always result in some celebration, the exhilaration in the streets of many major U.S. cities on Saturday was unprecedented.
This is not the first time this week that New York City residents and students took to the streets because of the election. The Associated Press called the race in New York for Biden at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, giving Biden 29 electoral votes, but New Yorkers still mobilized on Wednesday evening in rallies that called for states to “count every vote” and “protect the results” as Trump called for key swing states like Pennsylvania to stop counting votes and falsely alleged voter fraud.
At least three protests were planned in Washington Square Park, in Columbus Circle, and along Fifth Avenue. At Washington Square Park, nearly 500 people gathered on Wednesday, according to officers of the New York Police Department at the scene. Peaceful protestors marched down Fifth Avenue as part of the nationwide “Count Every Vote” campaign, but they were met with upward of 100 police officers in riot gear and with barricades. A smaller group of demonstrators confronted the line of police and knocked over the barricades as they began protesting police brutality. Over 40 arrests were made.
“The fact that those [barricades] were up, to begin with, incited more panic than I think anything that the protesters could have done or were doing,” Talia Rosenthal, BC ’22, said.
Rosenthal joined the protest when she heard participants passing by her Union Square apartment.
“On Nov. 4, I was so surprised that New York wasn’t protesting because of how many votes were coming out for Trump,” Rosenthal said. “So when I heard that they were protesting, I felt like, you know, finally.”
Staff writer Carmen Sherlock can be contacted at email@example.com.
Deputy News Editor Sofia Kwon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.