By Katie Garwood | firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporters from both parties convened at the Castillo de San Marcos Monday for opposing purposes, despite standing just steps from each other.
The “Spirit of America” rally drew a crowd of around 250 Donald Trump supporters donning flags, signs and hats with the President’s name. The rally, put on by the St. Johns County GOP was hosted by Diane Scherff, vice chairman of the St. Johns REC and featured guest speakers: Lt. Tom Waskovich, Bill Korach, chairman of the St. Johns REC and a prayer invocation with Pastor Ron Stafford.
Speakers praised Trump and his new administration for their work in the first month of his presidency and his ability to keep his promises made on the campaign trail. Scherff spoke about the election and how it left the country in “shock.
“President will see this,” said Scherff, referring to the rally the party put together.
Just around the corner, a group of anti-Trump protesters stood holding signs and chanting. They then marched past the congregation of Trump supporters, drawing boos from the crowd.
“I love these protesters,” said Yvonne Dearinger, who attended the Trump rally. “They say ‘love trumps hate,’ no, I love them. They’re people, they’re just confused. They’re just confused and listening to the wrong people, the wrong voices and they have a right just like we have a right to assemble. That’s why we respond with love.
Both groups had phrases they shouted throughout the duration of the event. For the Republican side, supporters chanted “USA,” “eight more years,” and “we want more liberal tears.”
On the Trump-rally side, supporters carried Trump flags and signs, some of which were from the campaign season. Others read “St. Augustine loves Pres. Trump,” “God bless America,” and “America comes first.”
Anne Griffin said she came to the rally to support “my President, whom I love, Donald Trump.”
“Of all the people when our election started, he was the last man standing against some very powerful people,” Griffin said. “He was the last man standing and I just felt like God placed him where he wanted him. When the election came and he won, I literally cried along with a lot of people, because we praised God that he allowed this man to be our President at this time in history when we need him.”
On the opposing side, signature calls included “love trumps hate” and “this is what democracy looks like.” Upon a boat hitched to a truck passing by that read “Trump won, get over it,” protesters shouted, “sink the boat.”
Among those protesting on the anti-Trump side was Brandy Organist. Prior to the local women’s march in January, Organist said she had no experience as a protester.
“There are a lot of our freedoms at stake and people need to realize it,” Organist said. “So it’s really just to spread the message that we all need to be aware of what’s going on in our politics, not just now, but all the time. We can’t just give up when things change, we have to keep working.”
Anti-Trump protesters shared similar sentiments about the administration thus far. Several held signs that called for his impeachment. Others brought signs that advocated for saving the Affordable Care Act and investigating the administration’s dealings with Russia and emphasized the importance of the free press.
Monica Gorlick, a counter-protester, said she doesn’t like the way the Trump administration has gone in its first month, but doesn’t think Trump will make it to the end of his term before being impeached. She said she came out to stand up for “freedom for all … including the Trumpsters.”
“You have to show you’re in support of a cause, that you believe in something with your whole heart and all your energy,” Gorlick said. “You have got to get out there and you have to get the support, otherwise it’s going to go away.”