ITHACA, N.Y.—Some residents of the City of Ithaca took to the Commons downtown in response to the results of last week’s presidential election after it was announced that former Vice President Joe Biden had secured enough electoral votes to win the election.

CNN made the call at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, and was followed in prompt succession by other news networks. A few minutes afterward, residents of the City Centre building in downtown Ithaca briefly banged pots and pans on their balconies in celebration.

Shortly after Biden was declared the winner, a previously scheduled rally on the Commons began, which had been aimed at organizing local people to help the effort to protect the results of the election. President Donald Trump has challenged the results of the election since Tuesday, focusing on mail-in and absentee ballots, and organizers of the rally felt the need to pledge that they would protect the process from presidential interference. It was titled the Rally to Protect the Results and Build a Better Democracy, and hosted by the newly formed Just Democracy Coalition – Tompkins Area.

“We are organizing ourselves to do everything we can to stop an illegitimate power grab by the Trump administration,” the group stated on a flyer for the event. “We see nonviolence as the effective strategy that will enable us to connect broadly with all who share our concern for protecting democracy — so that we can continue to work on transforming it.”

A string of speakers addressed the crowd, with the event drawing several dozen attendees. Speakers were realistic, acknowledging that although many of them voted for Biden, holding he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris accountable for their campaign promises is now crucial. The event continued for about three hours.

“It’s not enough to just come out here and look at each other, we have to do our part continuously,” said activist Phoebe Brown, who delivered remarks filled with relief. “Don’t think for a minute that when we put someone in office, that’s it. That’s not it.”

As the day continued, the celebration became more raucous. A dance party formed at the western end of the Commons after nightfall, with a group of 50 or so young people blasting music and cheering as cars passed, honking and cheering themselves. Students hung out of cars, waving Biden/Harris signs, though the scene was still more subdued than it would have been under different circumstances, likely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a general lack of students on campus compared to normal years.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com