While President-Elect Donald Trump hosted his first “thank you” tour rally since the election, chants of “love trumps hate,” echoed in the cold Cincinnati air Thursday night outside of the US Bank Arena.
The cry was met by a man’s voice nearby, who responded, “That’s that not love! Why are you here?”
There was a little tension between protestors and Trump supporters outside of the President-elect’s first such event post-victory, the beginning of several stops on a tour through the states his transition team sees as keys to his upset win last month.
The colorful and at time incendiary rallies Trump hosted became signature stops throughout the Republican primary and the general election campaign, as were the consistent presence of comparatively small but vocal groups of protesters who demonstrated in and around his events. And on Thursday, they were back at it in Ohio.
A small group of people gathered near the entrance for the Trump rally about an hour before the show started. Wielding a few bullhorns and carrying signs, they chanted about immigration rights, Hillary Clinton, and “fighting back.”
One woman, dressed in a graduation cap and gown, projected into the megaphone, “I’m not a rapist, I’m not a criminal. Education not deportation.”
There were signs running the gamut of left leaning policies including the North Dakota pipeline access to cruder – as well as sentiment about the President-elect with messages of “F*** Trump.”
Unlike some of the protests in large cities that followed in the immediate days after Trump’s victory, Thursday’s protest was passionate but peaceful.
Miranda McGee, 33-years-old, stood protesting with a “Love trumps hate” sign, and had a message for the President-elect. She was still visibly upset, some 19 days after Election Day, while talking to CNN.
“I would say, you didn’t win,” she said, taking a deep breath and fighting back tears. “You won because of the Electoral College. There are a lot of people unhappy. I will not stand for you to put down my fellow countrymen and I will not be beaten in spirit just because I was beaten at the polls.”
McGee says she’s afraid for her friends in Cincinnati who are different: “anyone who’s different, who looks different.”
Kathleen Bates was protesting what Trump stands for, as she said. “There are so many things. Where do I even start?”
The 50-year-old Ohioan, who said she’s never protested an election winner in her life, liked the “Hamilton” cast’s message to Mike Pence a few weeks back and it inspired her to make a sign bearing, “What the Hamilton cast said … ditto. Not hate in my state.”
She said she’s optimistic about rebuilding the Democratic party, and especially Bernie Sanders new leadership role on the left.
“He’s not divisive. He’s not angry. I hope they keep it up. I hope they get on track and include everybody,” she said, adding that she had been a Sanders supporter.
As the rally start time grew closer, the security line to get in swelled and there were more protestors standing on concrete planters, hovering over the Trump supporters on both the right and left sides of a walkway into the arena.
There was some shouting back and forth between the groups. A few Trump supporters in Make America Great Again hats, yelled, “Losers” and another guy yelling at protesters that the cops were there to protect them, though none of the protesters appeared to be protesting about cops.
A line of bike police officers formed around 7 pm, separating them. Despite the disagreements between the camps, both Trump supporters and protestors thanked the police officers for their service.
A small white sign saying, “No mandate” hung over Denny Burger’s head outside the venue. The 67-year-old Cincinnati resident said he wasn’t surprised that Trump won Ohio or the election. He wasn’t too optimistic either about the Carrier plant deal that had been announced on Wednesday, and which Trump was highlighting as one of his first achievements inside the arena.
“He’s using $7 million tax cuts to keep 1,000 jobs. Okay, so he’s using strategies he’s been opposed to in the past, using government incentives and tax breaks to do that,” Burger asked.
As for the Cabinet picks, Burger thought that a Mitt Romney secretary of state choice maybe wasn’t so bad, but that it was probably a plot to embarrass the former Massachusetts governor.
“I’d be fine with that compared to some of the people he’s been talking about. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. That’s way more concerning than Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.”
Bates, too, called the Trump Cabinet picks so far “frightening” citing specifically Betsy DeVos, a billionaire picked to lead the Education department, saying she’s supports private schools over public schools.