Responding to weeks of high-profile anti-Trump protests, President Trump’s supporters took to the streets Saturday to express their approval for nation’s president.
From Massachusetts to Colorado and even at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Mr. Trump’s backers gathered in state capitols and city centers in more than half of the nation’s states. Some sported iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats or waved “Deplorables for Trump” signs as groups of a few hundred people marched for the president in the “Spirit of America” demonstrations.
For weeks, Trump's opponents have flooded streets and town halls to decry the president's policies on immigration and climate change as well as his rhetoric surrounding women and minorities. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Women’s March the day after inauguration, spurring a resistance that has carried through the first few weeks of Trump's presidency.
But those vocal cries have frustrated some Trump voters, who have urged Americans to give the new president a chance before criticizing or blocking his agenda.
Rallies for a sitting president are uncommon in the United States, but then so are widespread mass protests against them within a day of taking office. Just as those who felt anxiety or dread following Trump’s unexpected election victory took comfort in rallying alongside those of a similar mindset, the president’s supporters used the day as a chance to come together around their shared morals and values.
Some hoped a day of peaceful gathering could heal the increasing partisan divide that has sorted liberals and conservatives into opposing camps that interact with one another less and less.
“We did not want to have something like this happen,” Margaret Howe, who attended a rally in Ohio, told the Associated Press, saying she fears the country’s divisions could spark a second Civil War. “We came out today because Trump deserves to see he still has people for him. It’s just all sad.”
The day resulted in sporadic arrests nationwide, as protesters and supporters clashed in some cities. Six people were arrested in Minnesota while another two were taken into custody in Tennessee. At some demonstrations, the number of Trump's opponents nearly matched the supporters.
A scene in the liberal hub of Berkeley, Calif., became particularly violent as protesters attacked each other with wooden sticks or used pepper spray. Five people were arrested and more were injured.
But other gatherings proved peaceful, where supporters repeated the president’s promises to bring jobs back and crack down on illegal immigration.
“We’re gonna take our country back and we’re gonna establish borders and have legal immigration and law and order,” Cherie Francis, of Cary, N.C., told the Associated Press at a rally. “And if you’re against all that, then you should be afraid.”
For some, the day marked a chance to openly support the president after a week of controversy. As allegations surrounding the administration’s ties to Russia and concerns about its ethical conduct continue to mount, those who still feel confident in the president’s message used the day to highlight what they see as positive progress under Trump.
"After this, I think people will take the hint," said former US Marine David Moore, who attended a rally in San Diego, told Reuters. "It’s okay to voice support for the president and the country."
This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.