'Stop Hate, Save America,' Protesters Yell With Trump In Hamptons
BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY – President Donald Trump visited the Southampton home of developer Stephen Ross Friday afternoon, the second of two re-election fundraisers in the Hamptons that were expected to bring in $10 million, while hundreds turned out across the East End to protest against the president’s rhetoric and policies.
Ross, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins as well as fitness companies SoulCycle and Equinox, has himself been in the headlines for several days, as critics called for boycotts of the two firms.
Before boarding Air Force One to head to Long Island Friday morning, Trump called Ross a “great friend of mine.”
The president’s first stop on the island was at the Bridgehampton home of builder Joe Farrell.
Meanwhile, in Water Mill, protesters were making their voices heard Friday.
“Stop hate, save America,” they chanted at a “Rally to Save America, Stop Hate” hosted by the Progressive East End Reformers/NYPAN.
“I feel it’s my duty to as an American citizen to speak out,” said Angela Giovanniello, of East Quogue, one of of about 250 protesters at the rally. “I feel our government is no longer working in our best interests. Instead we are working for the interests of Vladimir Putin at the expense of our democracy.”
There were a few Trump supporters among the crowd, including Diana Hinojosa, of Water Mill.
“I think the president has done a lot of great stuff,” Hinojosa said. “No one is perfect…but he’s done a lot of great stuff.”
The protesters confronted Hinojosa and her husband Fausto, himself a “proud immigrant” who arrived in California in the 50s; he said immigration has been an issue for decades but he supports any sitting president of the United States.
Those railing against Trump demanded to know why Hinojosa would support Trump, blasting him for recent immigration raids that left children unattended. Many asked why she had shown up at all. She answered that she believed in freedom of speech and refused to engage in the arguments.
Speakers addressing the large crowd included Sister Mary Beth Moore, who works with immigrants in Hampton Bays through the Centro Corazon de Maria; she was arrested recently for protesting treatment of children at the border.
“The hate must stop,” she said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. “We must be endlessly creative to stop the hate.”
Activist Jackie Gavron questioned the voting record of GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, who was expected to accompany Trump Friday. Despite his “boyish, mild-mannered” demeanor, Gavron said, Zeldin is a “right-wing extremist” who votes against background checks on gun purchases and a ban on assault rifles, even after recent mass shootings.
Rabbi Jan Urbach of the Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons spoke about the danger of fear and said it was critical to stay active, stay centered —and stay kind.
All said they were gathering to protest issues including inhumane conditions at 200-plus immigrant detention centers; what they described as Trump’s blatant racism and willingness to provoke hatred and division; refusal to protect American elections from Russian interference; and systematic undoing of environmental protections.
“Two, four, six, eight; Stop the violence, stop the hate,” “The people united, will never be divided,” “”Stop hate, save America,” the crowd cried, as cars honked loudly.
Others driving by, however, shouted, “Trump 2020!” and “Trump is No. 1!”
Trump was to depart Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton at 3:50 p.m., headed for his golf club in New Jersey.
Word of the fundraisers had sparked a backlash, with some critics turning to social media to say that they are boycotting Ross’s businesses.
“Hamptons SoulCycle users — time to change where you work out if you’re against caging children, destroying the planet, and slaughtering our fellow citizens with military weaponry,” Kate Mueth of East Hampton wrote on social media this week.
But according to a post in the Daily Beast, SoulCycle’s chief executive officer offered free “social justice” rides to “customers for causes hand-picked by each of her hundreds of instructors.” CEO Melanie Whelan called the week a “difficult” one, the post said.
Protesters have been mobilizing for Trump’s Long Island visit since it was announced.
“This rally is critically important because right now our nation’s democracy and even its sense of humanity are under serious threat,” said Amy Turner, one of the organizers of the “Rally to Save America, Stop Hate” rally. “We must stand up for our values and and against Trump’s blatant racism and provocation of hatred, the inhumane treatment of migrants, the refusal to protect our elections from foreign interference, and the dismantling of environmental regulation.”
Model Chrissy Teigen and comedian Billy Eichner both took to social media to encourage Equinox and SoulCycle members to cancel their gym memberships.
Kenny Stills, a wide receiver on the Ross-owned Miami Dolphins, took his employer to task over perceived hypocrisy regarding the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. The charity seeks to use sports to eliminate racial discrimination and “improve race relations,” according to its website. Stills is an outspoken critic of the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, who has been kept out of the league since protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
“You can’t have a non-profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills tweeted Wednesday.
Stills said he’s received death threats on social media because of his stance.
Trump supporters welcome President
Despite the protest, many on the East End are thrilled that Trump is visiting their hometown. “Welcome to the Hamptons, President Trump,” one woman wrote on Facebook.
Added another, also on Facebook: “Love my President!
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Protestors slam Zeldin
Those protesting also voiced their frustration with Zeldin, who also accompanied Trump through a round of campaign fundraisers last summer.
“I hope that tomorrow’s peaceful protest brings Mr. Zeldin to be aware of the concerns of a large portion of his constituents,” organizer Kate Mueth said. “We deeply need to have in person, open and problem-solving discussions in town hall gatherings so we can find ways to come together and work to address these most urgent concerns. I would love to see him leaning in and coming to the table of solutions.”
Mueth also said the practice of coming together to stand against actions, tactics and positions the government is taking is a fundamental American right.
“We will not sit idly by but instead we will demand action on the reckless lack of governance that is making guns too easy to acquire to slaughter our innocent citizens. Lee Zeldin takes a load of dollars from the NRA, that’s one more problem with Mr. Zeldin. We shall not sit idly by while the stewardship of our planet goes to waste and is blatantly harmed for greed and laziness’ sake.”
It’s not the first time Trump’s visits to the East End and Long Island made headlines: Last year, Trump arrived on Air Force One at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, and his visit sparked both strong protests and steadfast shows of support.
Trump visited Long Island to blast deadly MS-13 street gang
Trump has also visited Long Island twice in recent years to take a tough stance against gang violence, blasting MS-13 and its trail of death, brutality and destruction across the nation.
Trump spoke at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, blasting the violent street gang and promising to rid gang-ravaged Long Island communities of the “animals” on their streets during a visit to the island.
Sen. Chuck Schumer fired back on Twitter, saying, “When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t ‘animals,’ and these people aren’t either.”
The gruesome discovery in a Central Islip park in April 2017 of four young men murdered by MS-13 members brought an international spotlight to Suffolk County, with elected officials and law enforcement vowing to fight back.
In 2017, the president spoke in Brentwood, where two teen girls were brutally murdered by MS-13 members in 2016.
“They butchered those little girls,” Trump said. “They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here.” The president also said the gang had transformed Long Island’s “peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods into blood-stained killing fields.”
Looking ahead, protesters said action is needed, including voter registration, that those registered as Independence Party members should become Democrats with an eye toward unity, and longer hours for the Board of Elections.
Two men standing across the road refused to say whether or not they were Trump supporters. When asked, one said, “Even if I were, I wouldn’t say it now.”