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Protesters Greet Trump Outside MacDill Gates

*The story was updated in the early afternoon to include more people who joined the protest.

President Trump's first visit to Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base is underway. He’s scheduled to meet with leaders from Central Command and Special Operations, and have lunch with some of the troops during the brief visit.

This morning and afternoon, about 30 people* from local advocacy groups held what they called an "unwelcome" party for President Trump.

It was meant to encourage other Americans to call their lawmakers to fight executive orders barring refugees and immigrants - and future ones that some say may discriminate against the LGBT community.

While the president isn’t leaving the base property, protesters stationed themselves next to a nearby McDonalds. Donna Davis, the co-founder of Tampa's chapter of Black Lives Matter, said she's hoping her fellow citizens take note of the demonstration.

"We hope that he sees it, but more importantly, we hope that it emboldens other Americans who are sitting at home in silence, and in pain, to be able to stand up, call their congressmen, participate in an action, join a group, do some organizing and just engage," Davis said.

A counter-protester was among a handful who dropped by the demonstration to share their own views. 

Protesters held large handmade banners saying "Trump Not Welcome in Tampa," "Black Lives Matter" and "No Ban. No Wall. No Ethnic Cleansing."

Leaders from Black Lives Matter Tampa, Love Has No Borders, Tampa Food Not Bombs, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief and Out and Loud Florida were among those participating in today’s demonstration. They say they've been protesting Trump’s political stances since last summer, before his election

One of the protesters says she has never protested anything before. But Dr. Katherine Sutherland has been so moved by the new president's moves, that she traveled from Winter Haven to the gates of MacDill Air Force Base to join several dozen protesters.

She held a sign saying, "So many issues, so little cardboard."

"I'm very concerned with the erosion of our democracy at this point. I'm concerned about the de-legitimization of the media, I'm concerned about taking away our ability to know what government agencies are doing, I'm very concerned about (Steve) Bannon in the National Security Agency.

Sutherland likened the progressive movement to "a sleeping giant that is awakening."

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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