Women protest Republican 'legacy of sexism' outside Trump's Philly headquarters

Cynthia Oka (left) of Collingswood, and Sha Grogan-Brown of West Philadelphia, holding Tighe, 1, protest outside Donald Trump’s campaign office on South Street.

The lights in Donald Trump's South Street campaign office were dimmed, the front door locked, and the "Make America Great Again" signs on the front window obscured by several dozen women hoisting homemade signs of their own:

"WE WILL BITE BACK."

"GOP, HANDS OFF ME."

"MY FUTURE IS NOT UP FOR GRABS."

About 40 people gathered, on a day's notice, outside Trump's campaign office Tuesday morning to protest the Republican presidential nominee's comments about women -- and his party's "legacy of sexism," as organizer Emma Boorboor put it. In the hour before the workday began, they chanted, waved signs and cheered when passing cars honked in support.

The protest, called "Pussy Grabs Back," was part of a nationwide day of action organized under the hashtag #GOPHandsOffMe.

Boorboor said the protest was inspired by a group of women who blockaded Trump Tower in Manhattan after tapes were released last week of Trump's lewd boasts about groping women. 

"Rape culture didn't start with Donald Trump, and we're here to stand up to it," she said.

Trump's office, a former hair salon, sat empty for most of the 8-to-9 a.m. protest, until a lone Trump campaign worker walked past the protesters without a word and locked the door behind him. He did not respond to knocks on the door or glance up at the posters protesters pressed against the windows.

Later, the protesters said, he tore up a signed poster they had left for the campaign and walked back inside. The campaign worker said he threw out some "garbage" in front of the office, then declined further comment.

When asked for comment, Trump's Pennsylvania communications director, Greg Manz, replied with a prepared statement on Bill Clinton's visit to Montgomery County today. He highlighted a paragraph about the Clintons "bullying the victims of [Bill Clinton's] sexual predatory behavior in the workplace, including an intern half his age in the Oval Office as President."

Women who attended the protest said they had been disgusted but not surprised by Trump's comments about women, captured on tape in 2005 and leaked Oct. 7. "When they're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything," he told then Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush on the tape. 

"I'm fed up with hearing men in general, and Trump in particular, talk about our bodies like objects," said Paraska Tolan, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.  

Women who spoke at the protest said they were tired of being told that language such as Trump's wasn't important, or just how all men spoke. But they said they felt the Republican nominee's comments were a natural extension of his party's views on women.

"I was outraged, and I still am" after hearing Trump's most recent comments, said Cynthia Oka, a community organizer from Collingswood. "But we have an opportunity to point to the GOP and say, 'This is what you guys have actually been saying, that our bodies are not our own.' "

Sha Grogan-Brown brought his 17-month-old daughter Tighe, who waved the "My Future Is Not Up For Grabs" sign.

He, like many at the protest, said he had been equally outraged by Trump's rhetoric throughout the campaign -- suggesting a ban on Muslims entering the country, or calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists.

"I've been offended by Trump's assaults on all kinds of communities for a long time, and this is yet another assault on the dignity of women and sexual assault survivors," he said. "As a parent, I don't want my daughter growing up under a Trump presidency."