The Trentonian

Protesters Chant 'F*** Trump' Outside Lawrence Fundraiser

The Trentonian — May 19, 2016

By Penny Ray, The Trentonian

As Donald Trump supporters arrived at the National Guard Armory Thursday, eager to hear the presumptive GOP nominee speak, they were berated by protesters who had a few choice words.

"F**k Donald Trump," one protester shouted. "We're not about hate in the Garden State."

The protest, which was organized by New Jersey Citizen Action, a statewide grassroots nonprofit organization that fights for economic and social justice, was held across the street from the armory and began hours before Trump and Gov. Chris Christie spoke at a fundraiser Thursday night. The fundraiser was held to help the state GOP pay off about $500,000 in legal fees incurred as a result of the Bridgegate scandal. Funds raised during the event will also help Christie pay roughly $250,000 in presidential campaign debt.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of NJ Citizen Action, said the nonprofit organized the protest because they believe Trump's speeches on the campaign trail have shown that he hates just about everybody and everything.

"Donald Trump represents hate," Salowe-Kaye said. "He hates Mexicans, Muslims and the media. He hates teachers, paying taxes and telling the truth. He hates women, global warming, pollsters, pundits and political debates. He's a bragger, a bully and a birther; and we don't need people like that in our state."

Salowe-Kaye also described Governor Christie's support of Trump as "outrageous." She said Christie should be more focused on the issues most important to New Jerseyeans, such as women's healthcare, pay equity, education equity, pensions and the state budget, which remains on hold and has not been approved since the governor's budget address in February.

"The governor should be here taking care of the business of this state," Salowe-Kaye said. "He's been out of the state nearly all year and we have areas such as Atlantic City that need his attention."

Of course, not everyone outside the armory was opposed to Trump for President. Trump even attracted young minority supporters. A 17-year-old from East Brunswick wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat said he likes Trump because "he's an outsider."

"I'm tired of the Clintons and everyone else in the establishment," he said. "They're not for America; they're for the lobbyists."

Michael Shapiro, a Trump volunteer from North Jersey said he agrees with Trump "on all of his beliefs," even the controversial ones.

"I'm all aboard," Shapiro, who is a self-employed recycler and volunteers at Trump campaign headquarters in Edison, said.

Trump also attracted a group of vendors, many of whom said they've been selling Trump merchandise across the country ever since he announced his campaign for President.

"It's all about the money," seller Chris Gechev, of Seaside Heights, said, adding that he likes "everything Trump says."

"I'm a person out to work, so of course I like Trump," Gechev said. "I'm somebody that works every single day."

Perry O'Brien, an Army veteran who served as a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, traveled from New York to attend the protest outside of the armory. He said he opposes Trump for President because of comments he made about Muslims.

"A lot of veteran groups are rising up in response to the increased hate speech that we're seeing against Muslims," O'Brien said. "I know a lot of Muslims who put more on the line for this country than Donald Trump ever has."

O'Brien was discharged from the Army as a conscientious objector in 2004 after openly opposing military actions overseas.

"I originally supported the war in Afghanistan and was eager to go overseas," O'Brien said. "But after seeing the huge disconnect between the Hearts and Minds mission and what was happening on the ground, I could no longer be a part of it. Everything I saw us doing seemed like we were more likely to create motivation for future terrorists. It was clear our country was on the wrong path, and was using the military in every wrong way imaginable. That's why it's so scary when we hear Trump saying he wants to use the military to kill people's families and things like that. To have Trump, who has never served a day in his life, talk so casually about the way he's going to use the military really bothers me."

Ed Forchion, also known as NJ Weedman, used the Trump protest as an opportunity to get votes needed to place his name on the congressional ballot in the 12th District. In less than an hour, he obtained a couple hundred new signatures, Forchion said.

"I'm running for Congress," Forchion told protesters, as some of them posed for pictures and signed petitions to place his name on the ballot. "Of the major candidates for President, I'm a Bernie guy. But to be honest with you, I wish I could vote for Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party."

Thursday's protest drew a significant crowd that seemed to increase, up until the point when Trump's helicopter dropped him off behind the armory. Men, women and children of all ages, many of whom are still in high school, attended the protest to oppose Trump.

Trentonian staff writer David Foster contributed to this report.

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