Democratic activists in Orlando clashed with a pro-Trump rally at Lake Eola on Saturday.
The protest, called “Orlando Isn’t Trump Country,” partnered with the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida to express their belief that Central Floridians do not approve of Trump or his policies. Protest organizers also collected donations of non-perishable food and hygiene products for the homeless.
Sarah Wissig, the protest organizer, said she opposed Trump’s policies and wanted to represent the views of her community. As an Affordable Care Act healthcare recipient and member of the LGBT community, Wissig said the Trump administration’s policies were an attack on her community. She said she was insulted by Trump’s rhetoric concerning the Pulse nightclub shooting, which he used to justify policies such as the travel ban.
“We see the Trump administration not only trying to oppose our rights but also to exploit our tragedy to promote his xenophobic policies,” Wissig said.
Among the policies that the protest’s speakers opposed was the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement program, a new office within the Department of Homeland Security that produces quarterly reports of criminal activities of undocumented immigrants. The Rev. Kathy Schmidtz of the 1st Unitarian Church said Trump defends his immigration stances by saying that his policies are only meant to make things difficult for people who enter the country illegally, but Schmidtz said that’s not the case.
“President Trump says he is concerned with terrorism, yet he is causing terror,” Schmidtz said.
Following speeches from local leaders including Wissig, Schmidtz and Democratic Florida State District 48 Rep. Amy Mercado, the protest moved from its meeting place on Colonial Drive to Lake Eola, where attendees chanted grievances at the pro-Trump rally across the street.
The protesters highlighted that some of the people at the Trump rally were not residents of Orlando or Orange County. Rather, they were brought in from other counties by local Republicans. The Trump rally’s Facebook event linked attendees to a page selling tickets for tour bus rides to Lake Eola from Volusia County.
“Despite the fact that there are Trump supporters gathering here, I want Trump to know that he isn’t welcome here,” said Gavin Ahlers, 21, a UCF junior studying computer science. “We who actually live here do not support his racism, xenophobia and sexism.”