BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A protest calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, billed as “America Is Better Than Trump,” brought people out Sunday along Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village.
A counter-protest was held just down the road at Colonial Circle by United for Trump 2020. Officers with the Buffalo Police Department stood watch in between, and at times, words were exchanged.
All in all, it showed a wide divide in the City of Good Neighbors.
“For the past four years, Trump has been destroying our nation,” said Paris Canty, who attended the rally.
Comments tweeted by the president last week telling four Democratic congresswomen to “go back to the crime-infested places from which they came” left many that attended the protest not at all shy to call Trump a racist.
“The fact that he is allowed to tweet unchecked and just say whatever racist, xenophobic, ethnocentric thought that comes to mind is just really dangerous for our country,” said Liv Gentry of Buffalo.
Avril Depagter, a mother of two from Boston, was almost moved to tears when asked how she felt about Trump’s rhetoric.
“When we start normalizing those racist comments, it sets a really disgusting message for America and I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world like that,” Depagter said.
Not all Buffalonians share this same sentiment, as right down the street, counter-protesters gathered to show their support for Trump and share their excitement about the upcoming election.
“If you get a Democrat in there, you’re going to see the country go downhill quick. It’s game over in my opinion. I think he definitely needs another four years,” said David Higgins of Springville.
Harold Hopkins came to the pro-Trump rally from Varysburg. He says the tweets were taken out of context and that the president is simply putting America first.
“On the four congresswomen, the issue is really ideological it’s not racial or ethnic. It’s all about if you love the country or you want to transform the country into a socialist, globalist state,” Hopkins said.
Laurie Kostrzewski of North Buffalo said the tweets were edited into sound bites.
“If they would take the time to look at the full tweet, he asked them to go back to where they originated to find out what problems they can solve,” Kostrezewski said.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are American citizens. Only Omar was born overseas.
Both protests had an estimated 100 people in attendance. There did not appear to be any arrests or any particular exchanges or incidents that escalated. Police could not immediately confirm that.
The opposing protests were represented by two well-known political organizers, who met beforehand to try and set the tone for the day.
Nate McMurray, who ran as a Democrat for Congress, and Rus Thompson, long known for his involvement as a Tea Party activist, met in the middle and shook hands after expressing some concerns.
Thompson in a press release sent out Sunday morning said that McMurray, who ran for New York’s 27th District Congressional seat against Rep. Chris Collins and lost, called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, so a counter-protest was organized.
Thompson told McMurray that some of the anti-Trump protesters were where his group set up, at Bidwell Parkway and Colonial Circle. “I wish someone would go down there and say you’re at the wrong rally,” Thompson said.
McMurray said he’d try to accommodate, and, “thank you for being respectful enough to meet me in the middle.”