Supporters, Protesters Face Off In Orlando As President Trump Launches Re-Election Campaign
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the Proud Boys were misidentified. The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not identify domestic organizations as extremist groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center designates the Proud Boys as a hate group. The founder of the Proud Boys is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation because of the label.
After an afternoon of pre-rally protestors rallied in downtown Orlando Tuesday, close to 20,000 supporters of President Donald Trump up in ‘Make America Great Again” hats and t-shirts to cheer on the commander in chief’s re-election bid.
Speaking to the crowd at Orlando’s Amway Center, Trump railed against the Mueller investigation into Russian interference, repeated calls for a southern border wall and promised to drain the swamp.
“We’re going to keep it better than ever before. We’re going to keep it better than ever before, and that is why tonight, I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States,” he said.
Trump also called for immigration reform, calling for a merit-based immigration system. He praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a so-called sanctuary cities bill this month
“Thank you Governor Ron for ending that disaster,” he said.
Before Trump took the stage, Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s sons rallied the crowd while Apopka-based Pastor Paula White prayed for the President and his campaign.
DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and Congressman Matt Gaetz joined the President for the announcement.
Outside, things got heated as Trump protesters and counter protesters chanted at each other across a line of police outside the Stonewall bar in Orlando Tuesday.
The situation was momentarily diffused by an interaction between two members of the opposing groups.
Gary Snow is a member of the Proud Boys. He said he was getting angry that he wasn’t allowed to cross the line until a protester decided to talk to him.
Alexandra Ale with non-profit Alianza for Progress was that protester. Ale said the dialogue shows the importance of reaching across ideological dividing lines.
“We just want fairness and we need to unite together and we need to send that message loud and clear,” she said. “I feel like maybe they have the wrong idea of the groups that don’t support Trump. Sometimes I think we need to open a dialogue a more amicable dialogue.”
Police maintained a strong presence throughout the afternoon and evening in the lead up to Trump’s re-election campaign rally at the Amway Center.
Protesters holding ‘Impeach Trump’ signs listened to mariachi music near a 20-foot Baby Trump balloon. Zena Velasquez who was wearing a Mexican flag said she was there to protest Trumps immigration policies.
“I’m tired of seeing black and brown people dying, I am tired of seeing the rich not having to pay when the poor are being drained,” said Velasquez.