Local protesters of Donald J. Trump’s campaign visit to Whatcom County got an early start Friday, May 6, in advance of the polarizing presidential candidate’s rally this weekend in Lynden.
About 30 people on the sidewalk along Meridian Street held signs — e.g., “Dump Trump,” “No To Fascism, No To Trump,” “Whatcom County Values People of All Colors and Religions” — as drivers honked in support on one of the main routes from Bellingham to Lynden.
Some protesters said they wanted to counter Trump’s rhetoric with positive messages. Others expressed their feelings more bluntly about the Republican nominee-to-be.
Peoples’ minds are already made up, for the most part, I think. But still, silence is complicity to what Trump is saying.
Phoebe Wahl, 25, of Bellingham
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“He’s just disgusting, he’s just disgusting,” said Audrey Dowell, 50, of Bellingham. “That’s all I can say, one word: Disgusting. Vile. Repulsive. He’s just nasty. He can’t be the president, it’s just terrifying.”
Trump, the lone candidate left standing in a once-crowded Republican field, will speak at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds around 3 p.m. Saturday. He announced the campaign stop two days in advance, when other plans for a rally in Western Washington fell through.
Protestors and supporters from around the state are expected to converge on Lynden on Saturday.
The Friday protest was organized by Community to Community Development, a social justice and farmworker rights organization based in Bellingham.
Many passing motorists showed support. A few showed their disdain. One shouted at the group to “get a job.”
“Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” chanted another man in an SUV with Canadian license plates.
Many voiced concern about Trump’s comments on women, Muslims and immigrants.
“Rounding up 11 million people and deporting them?” Dowell said. “It makes me picture Holocaust movies, with trainloads of people who were carted off.”
Phoebe Wahl, 25, of Bellingham, said she spent a couple of hours in the morning working on a giant red banner with a painted caricature of Trump, with his hair flaming orange and his lips in a tight O. She labeled the portrait: Fascist.
Wahl said she didn’t expect to change anyone’s mind by protesting.
“Peoples’ minds are already made up, for the most part, I think,” Wahl said. “But still, silence is complicity to what Trump is saying.”
The wall that Trump has proposed on the U.S.-Mexican border strikes Michaela Vendiola, 20, as ironic and wrong, given the history of the land.
“This is my traditional territory, I’m Native American,” said Vendiola, a student of Western Washington University. “So I see it as my job, as a young native person, to stand up for all people and their rights, and our rights as native people.”
Her sign read: Make Lynden Coast Salish Again. (Trump has adopted the slogan: Make American Great Again.)
Local tribal members, like Vendiola, and the Whatcom County Young Democrats turned out for the event Friday.
“We are united,” said Maru Mora-Villalpando, spokeswoman for Community to Community. “This is something we all agree upon here.”
Plans for Saturday
Several groups also are scheduling protests Saturday at the fairgrounds in Lynden.
“As they have the right to call a rally, we also have a right to protest when hate and bigotry is being used as a tool, as scapegoating of our community has been used to gain votes for their campaign,” Mora-Villalpando said.
Organizers said the protests will be peaceful.
“Donald Trump has been fanning the flames of racism and misogyny for too long and we’re not going to welcome it,” said Adam Schaefer, chair of Whatcom County Young Democrats.
Protest organizers said they are taking a stand against fascism, xenophia, racism and Islamophobia.
“America is about being the land of opportunity no matter where you come from,” Schaefer said. “We need a president who believes in all of us.”
Kenna Marsh, a sophomore at Ferndale High School, and friend Maritza Mendoza will be among the protesters outside the Trump rally on Saturday, inviting others to come via Facebook.
Marsh said they disapproved of Trump’s message, especially since they are people of color.
“I feel as if we would be going backward if we are to stay silent. We have voices and we are going to show that,” Marsh said. “Silence has never done anything.”
These protests are scheduled for Saturday by the fairgrounds in Lynden:
▪ “Protest Donald Trump in Lynden” 10 a.m.;
▪ “Protest Donald Trump” 2 p.m.;
▪ “Protest Donald Trump’s visit to Lynden” 2 p.m.;
▪ “Donald Trump Peaceful Protest” 3 p.m.