A day of protests in South Florida culminated in Palm Beach as more than 1,000 people gathered to speak out against President Donald Trump outside the Mar-a-Lago estate.
The protesters made their way to his resort after marching from Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach. Trump was in Palm Beach for a weekend visit — his first since his inauguration — and for the International Red Cross Ball.
Protesters held colorful signs and chanted messages like “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter” and “Hey hey, ho ho. Donald Trump has got to go.”
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Many said they were standing in support of Muslims, minorities and people they felt were at risk because of Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Late Saturday, that order was tied up in the courts.
Lawrence Otremba, and his husband, Chris Busby, have been together for 18 years and got married as soon as it was legal. Busby said he was grateful for the hard work of activists that came before him and he wanted to use his privilege to speak up for others.
“I’m afraid for them. I’m afraid for those who don’t look like me. Don’t talk like me. And act differently than me. I can pass,” Busby said. “You can’t look at me and tell I’m married to a man. I can look straight. I’m afraid for the people who can’t hide who they are.”
As protesters gathered in front of the Trump Plaza, Mark Golden and his son, Scott, watched from across the street.
“This is Trump country,” Golden said, adding that almost everyone he knows in the area is a Trump supporter.
He voted for Hillary Clinton, even though he’s “always liked Trump as a character.” After the inauguration he was hoping to see a change in Trump’s rhetoric but now Golden said he believes the president “thrives on chaos.”
“It doesn’t seem like you can be an effective president if half the country hates you,” Golden said.
There were some Trump supporters as the group marched and they occasionally tangled with the protesters. The driver of a pickup truck, with a huge American flag and Trump banner, drove up and down the road repeatedly. The driver and his passenger also exchanged insults and jeers with the crowd.
As the sun set, some in the crowd donned glowing cat ears and others carried glow sticks and fixed LED lights to their signs as they made their way to the estate.
Joanne Byron and Carmel Vielot work with young students, including some from families of undocumented immigrants. Since the election, Byron said she calls the emotional reaction from the children “Trump trauma.”
“Some of them are actually afraid their parents will be deported,” Vielot, 51, said. “They talk about it.”
Further along the road, 18-year-old Elijah Inchauteguiz and a friend waved an American flag and Trump banner and verbally sparred with protesters. He said they were out there to express their opinions and keep an eye on the crowd.
Inchauteguiz said he voted for Trump because he thought he understood his problems and knew how to fix them. He said he enjoyed going back and forth with protesters and saw it as an expression of free speech.
“I gotta give them props for using their right to speak up,” Inchauteguiz said. “As long as they stay peaceful I think it’s awesome.”
The Palm Beach protest came after a demonstration in downtown Miami on Saturday afternoon where hundreds gathered at Bayfront Park and then marched through the streets to various government buildings. Saturday’s activity was the latest round of protests in South Florida and nationwide, marking two weekends of large protests against Trump since his inauguration three weeks ago.
Last weekend a crowd of about 300 protesters gathered at Miami International Airport to speak out against the travel ban. And about two weeks ago nationwide, women’s marches took place, including a large rally at Bayfront Park that became a march into downtown Miami and onto I-95.
On Saturday, the afternoon group made its way to the Miami-Dade County Courthouse and left peace signs, ribbons and other small memorials with signs and messages saying “Love Trumps Hate.” People in the crowd wore rainbow flags as capes, painted their faces with the message “#resist” and wore hijabs.
Miami Herald reporter Monique O. Madan contributed to this report.