Two women, naked from the waist up, burst into a midtown Manhattan polling station early Tuesday, shouting: “Out of our polls, Trump. Out of our polls, Trump!”
The women, identified as Neda Topaloski, a women's rights activist from Quebec, and Jordan Robson, of Spokane, Washington, were soon escorted out of the basement of P.S. 59 at 233 E. 56th Street, ahead of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's anticipated appearance at the polling station to cast his own vote.
The women wore jeans but no tops. Topaloski had the word “Trump” near her collarbone and the words “Grab your b---s” scrawled on her belly.
"We see women objectified all the time…what we do is exactly the opposite — using our bodies to express our own ideas," Topaloski said in an interview after the two were escorted out. "This is how we defend our values of freedom and equality, by writing them on our body so our bodies do not oppose the message, they are the very message of us defending our freedom of expression."
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Topaloski is a well-known Canadian FEMEN activist who tweeted out later that she was fighting the “rise of right-wing nationalism and its authoritarian sexist macho leader #DonaldTrump.” She wrote that women are not made to be sex toys, and people of other religions and nationalities should not be discriminated against or banned. As for why the topless protest? She wrote, “today, p---- grabs back and you lose.”
Police charged the two with electioneering (a misdemeanor activity prohibited under New York law that includes wearing badges and signs supporting a candidate to a polling place) and booked them at a local precinct.
Some poll workers took the ruckus in stride, barely looking up at the chanting. Other voters turned around from their white booths, trying to see what was going on.
Despite the commotion, the mood in the gymnasium remained mostly calm. Some jeered the women as they were escorted out; others gave them thumbs up signs.
Topaloski said there was nothing wrong with their protest.
"There is something very wrong with the way people see us," she said later. "If they criticize us for using our bodies as political tools, they criticize us because we’re women so it’s our stand for equality and freedom to actually enjoy these freedoms and rights.”