Although the temperature hovered around the ninety-degree mark in the late afternoon of Thursday, September 12, 2019, it was even hotter in the section of Baltimore known as Harbor East. The reason for that was that the ultra-conservative Republican President Donald Trump, a lightning rod for opponents of his policies, was in town.
Local protesters were out in force to give him a piece of their angry, collective minds. Trump was in town to give a speech at a three-day retreat being held by members of the national Republican Party at the Marriott Hotel. It’s located at the harbor’s edge at 700 Aliceanna Street.
The protesters, about 300 or more in number, couldn’t get close to the hotel. The local police presence was definitely on the heavy side. A piazza honoring Christopher Columbus, just west of the Little Italy neighborhood, was the staging area for the rally.
Trump landed in Baltimore via a helicopter, near an Under Armour warehouse, in South Baltimore, to facilitate the visit. A motorcade, manned by Secret Service officials, then carried the president around the Key Highway to the hotel, at least two blocks away from the protesters.
The very vocal rally was put on by a number of social justice groups and their allies. A large contingent present was from Baltimore’s growing Hispanic community and they were proudly wearing their “CASA in Action” t-shirts. They were there to let Trump know they could care less about his off-the-wall immigration policies, enforced by ICE, which they consider illegal, racist and bordering on the barbaric.
Police boats and helicopters were noted in the harbor around the Marriott during the protest action. They were regularly seen and heard patrolling the skies in the Harbor East area.
Backstory: Trump got in big trouble with Baltimore, and its supporters, when he recently referred to the city as “a disgusting, and rat and rodent infected mess,” and a “place no human would want to live.” Del. Elijah Cummings (D-7th District) of West Baltimore, a ranking member of House Committee on Oversight and Reforms, whose district he was panning, had questioned his authority in the Congress, to act in certain matters that bordered on the unconstitutional.
That was enough to send Trump’s ego and rage-monitor up into the stratosphere. He responded by calling Baltimore City, and the Congressman, every negative word that entered his mind. Trump’s tweet machine was burning up the Internet. He also accused the city, falsely, of “wasting billions of dollars in federal aid.”
In any event, the protesters today responded in kind. An inflatable figure (Corruption Cleanup), colored in lime green, with a sign that read: “Trump and the GOP are the real Rats,” was one of the highlights of the rally. In fact, “rats,” was one of the main themes of the protest action. There were rat images, here, there and everywhere.
There were plenty of protest signs, with messages that hit home with a striking force. One said: “Lock him up. Impeach!” Another sign barked: “Trump is a Racist. Rats Off our Streets.” Finally, there was the one showing a drawing of Trump with the words: “King Rat: You should go back to where you came from!” Ouch!
I got a chance to talk with two of the protesters: Ms. Tara Gallo and Malachy Kilbride. They shared their views on President Trump and why they thought it was important for them to attend this important protest action.
There was also present at the rally a small group of Trump loyalists. They were parked across the street from the main rally in the Columbus piazza and made little or no noise. Under the circumstances, it was probably a wise thing to do.
The crowd was entertained during the rally by the singing of protest songs, which featured the history and battles of the Labor Movement.
More of my photos from the rally can be found on my Facebook page.
Bill Hughes is a native of Baltimore. He’s an attorney, author, professional actor and hobbyist photographer. In his salad days, he worked on the docks as a longshoreman. Bill also played on three championship soccer teams: sandlot with Jules Morstein; high school at Calvert Hall; and college at the University of Baltimore.