Asbury Park Press

Hundreds Protest Trump Outside Rally

Asbury Park Press — May 20, 2016

By Erik Larsen

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP — The anti-Donald Trump rally in a leafy park across the street from the New Jersey National Guard Armory where he spoke Thursday evening at a carnival-like feel.

The hundreds of protesters came from all walks of life and represented a myriad of interests. For the most part it seemed to be all in good fun - a grown man in a Donald Trump Halloween mask, carrying on a satirical conversation with a group of union men.

It was theater in the park.

"I'm going to give Chris Christie a good job!" bellowed the faux Trump. "That's my lap dog and when I'm elected, he's going to be the door man at the Trump Plaza!"

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..." yelled the union men in unison.

It all seemed in good fun until the occasional, not-so-street savvy Trump supporter walked by the crowd into the rally with a Trump campaign sign.

"Die (expletive)!" some in the crowd shouted with earnest vitriol.

United States Marine veteran Jake Maier looked like the kind of man who one might expect to be a conservative voter in November. At 27, he stood confident and lean under a Marine Corps ball cap and a black T-shirt that read, "Iraq Veterans against the War."

"I'm here because I'm protesting my governor," Maier said, a Stirling resident. "As a New Jerseyan, not only has he totally abandoned the Muslim population at a time when violence against Muslims across the nation has doubled and tripled, he has also supported the most violent and vehement racist in Donald Trump. ... Gov. Christie has betrayed 200,000 of his own constituents."

Elsewhere there was Andrea Bonnette of East Amwell, a retired elementary school teacher who is looking forward to opening her summer home in Ship Bottom next week.

Over her lifetime, she has been at so many protests for so many different causes that she has lost track of the number. Bonnette's anger was also directed at Christie for endorsing Trump.

She held a sign that said, "Christie is eating our seed corn."

"See, if you're a city boy, you won't know what that means," Bonnette chided an Asbury Park Press reporter.

"If you're a farmer and you grow corn and then you can't eat it all up because you need some seed for the next year or you will starve the next year," she explained. "And what he is doing is diverting money from every fund. ... I have five great-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in this state. And everything we've got, (Christie's) just wrecking everything."

OK, but what about Trump?

"(If elected) it would be enough to make me move to Ireland, I think," she said. "We would be a laughing stock around the world."

Ann Vardeman is a spokeswoman for New Jersey Citizen Action, a statewide grassroots organization that fights for economic and social justice. The group had helped organize the rally with the slogan, "No Hate in the Garden State."

"We're here because we're absolutely appalled by the racist, sexist, bigoted speech and policies that are coming out of Donald Trump's mouth," Vardeman said. "And then the idea that our governor, who was elected to represent all of the people of the state of New Jersey ... would endorse that and lend his credibility to that, is absolutely horrifying."

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, one of the state's most well-known and out-spoken environmentalists, was also at the protest.

"Christie and Trump are perfect together, going back to the old Tom Kean slogan for New Jersey," Tittel said, who observed that the governor and the mogul both deny climate change, want to roll back environmental protections and approve fracking "everywhere."

"But they're not perfect for New Jersey and they're not perfect for the country," he said. "They could be a disaster for both. Gov. Christie's policies for New Jersey have been a disaster. And Donald Trump left this state with bankrupted casinos and tax breaks to have farmland assessments on golf courses, and playing all kinds of games. So we here in New Jersey know both of them really well."

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