As Trump motorcade passes, politics play out along Southern Boulevard


A tableau of U.S. politics played out along Southern Boulevard Tuesday evening as President Donald Trump’s motorcade carried him from Palm Beach International Airport to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

The president will be in Palm Beach through Sunday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Because the motorcade inevitably travels along Southern, sidewalks lining the road are gathering points for dozens of supporters, protesters and those curious to see the manpower behind protecting the president.

PHOTOS: President Donald Trump arrives in Palm Beach for Thanksgiving

While supporters waved poster board signs saying “Happy Thanksgiving President Trump” and “Welcome Home Trumps, Happy Thanksgiving,” protesters stood with signs made of cardboard, some bedecked with Christmas lights. One read “Dotard Loser” in heavy black print with tiny lights illuminating the letters like a theater marquee.

That sign belonged to 62-year-old Ginny Maki of Palm Beach Gardens, who said she has protested along Southern for each motorcade since Trump took office in January.

MORE COVERAGE: Follow the latest news on President Trump in Palm Beach on Facebook

“I want him to know we’re not happy with him,” she said Tuesday evening, standing with about two dozen other protesters near Dreher Park. “He’s deregulating everything.”

About a block west, a cluster of Trump supporters sat in folding chairs in front of the entrance to Dreher Park. Siblings Barbara Goff, 69, Robert Lyles, 68, and Margaret Lyles, 62, live in the historic Vedado neighborhood on the north side of Southern just east of Interstate 95. They bring American flags and signs to show their support for Trump each time he passes their home.

“Every time he comes, we come out here,” Goff said, smiling. “He’ll slow down and he’ll put his face against the window and wave.”

RELATED: President Trump and family arrive in Palm Beach for Thanksgiving

The trio voted for Trump, and said they’re troubled by the disrespect they see from Trump protesters and political opponents. “He’s here, he’s our president and we might as well support him,” Goff said, adding, “We didn’t vote for Obama, and we supported him.”

Her brother cut in: “If people would leave him alone, he’d be OK,” Robert Lyles said.

Alexander Veal, 18, arrived about an hour early to protest with a group of friends — “We’ve known each other since elementary school,” one said. He attends the University of Florida in Gainesville, and was part of anti-white supremacist demonstrations there when white nationalist Richard Spencer spoke at the campus last month.

RELATED: More than 300 people protest Trump’s TPS decision

“I just believe that he’s representing a populist movement that is going to be either very short-lived and die out very soon, or it may turn into something greater that we as an American society won’t be able to overcome, so I’d rather not let it get to that point,” Veal said.

Farther east on Southern in front of the Publix plaza, Paula Prudente of West Palm Beach stood with around 200 of her fellow supporters. Prudente, the administrator of the FloridaforTrump2020 Facebook page, helps organize pro-Trump demonstrations each time Trump visits.

“We love and support our president,” Prudente said. “We worked very hard to get him elected to make America the way it was written in the Constitution. We don’t want to be a globalist, Islamist Muslim, communist country. Obama started it. Now we have to work hard to get our country back.”

RELATED: Trump flight rules again to bring Lantana airport to standstill

She said those who protest the president are “anti-Americans.” She said she’s proud of Trump for enforcing the Constitution, but now wants the president “to lock up Hillary (Clinton) for all her treason.”

In the sea of Trump supporters outside Publix, 67-year-old protester Harvey Rosenfeld of West Palm Beach stood out in an Uncle Sam outfit. He said Trump’s policies are “extremely anti-democratic.

“Donald Trump is contemptuous of legitimate American democracy,” Rosenfeld added. “He feels like an unfettered monarch who should not be bound by any checks and balances from the legislature or judiciary. Republicanism is perfectly legitimate but Trump-ism is a perversion of Republicanism. It does a tremendous disservice to America.”

While he feels those who support Trump are sincere but “misguided,” he noted that speaking up — whether to protest or support — is a hallmark of the U.S. “It’s one of the strengths of this country,” he said.

Lantana resident Paul Scarcello, 57, has been along Trump’s motorcade route three or four times since the president took office. He stood with the pack of supporters Tuesday night, saying he was upset with Democrats, “that they’re giving (Trump) no support.”

But Scarcello said there’s something lacking in politics that he wants to see more of: unity.

“I’d like to see the country come together and everyone to get along whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” he said. “We all need to get along. That’s what this world is about.

“Life is too short.” 

With pink hair under a captain’s hat, Valentina Aved stood at the corner of Flagler Drive and Southern Boulevard waiting for Trump to pass. Aved, of Palm Beach, said she loves seeing the president come home to Mar-a-Lago. The Realtor has been a fan of Trump’s for a long time, she said, pulling out her business card that has a photo of her and Trump together. She’s met him several times over the years, including his trip in March to his golf course in Doral.

More than a year after the election, she said Trump hasn’t gotten as much done as everyone hoped, but even so, she said she still believes he has good intentions.

“He’s tried his best but he’s met a lot of confrontations,” she said. 

While there were lots of U.S. and Trump flags among the crowd at Flagler and Southern, there were dozens of posters and shirts that said “Hillary for Prison” or shouts of “Lock her up,” referring to Clinton, Trump’s former presidential opponent. At one point, two Trump protesters walked through the crowd of about 50 Trump supporters at the intersection, but they left before Trump’s motorcade arrived.

Dan Ray, who goes by Deplorable Dan, held a Gadsden flag, or the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, with signatures from Tea Party leaders across Florida. He said Trump still has work to do — specifically building a wall along the Mexican border with the U.S. — but the president is working on it.

“He’s not perfect, but neither are you or me.”



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