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2,000 expected for modified Trump protest march in West Palm


The March to Mar-a-Lago is no longer a march to Mar-a-Lago.

It’s still a protest march scheduled for Saturday in West Palm Beach, but it’s half a mile shorter and may not offer the most ideal view of President Trump’s winter White House.

That’s the result of a flurry of changes Thursday when two activist groups pledged to move forward with the march after the original organizer dropped out of the event Thursday because of safety concerns.

RELATED: THE POST’S COVERAGE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP

“We really want to ensure structure and keep things safe for people and participants. The mission has not changed,’’ said Alex Newell Taylor of Women’s March Florida, which is now co-hosting the march with South Florida Activism.

At least 2,000 people are expected to march on a slightly new route, still starting at 5 p.m. in front of Trump Tower in downtown West Palm Beach but ending along Flagler Drive just north of Southern Boulevard.

The original plan called for the march to end on Bingham Island, a small patch of land on the Southern Boulevard Causeway just west of Mar-a-Lago, but that was canceled Thursday because of concerns about large crowds blocking the road.

“We really don’t have space,’’ said Palm Beach Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin. “There were concerns on all ends (from police and participants).’’

Now, the 2.4-mile march is expected to end along Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach in and around the Greenwood Greenway, a small patch of public land north of the bend where Flagler Drive turns west toward Washington Road. The greenway, located on the Intracoastal Water, is named after Greenwood Road, which is 2 blocks west.

Taylor’s group and South Florida Activism both scrambled Thursday on social media to urge participants to ignore a posting earlier in the day by Stephen P. Milo, who originally organized the event, that the march was canceled.

“I want to be absolutely clear right now. The original event was NOT cancelled due to safety concerns,’’ said a South Florida Activism post on Facebook. “It was cancelled because an amateur got in over his head. We have spoken with the police and they understand our intentions (peaceful march and assembly).’’

Taylor wrote, “Don’t worry everyone – ONE PERSON’s personal decision is not putting a.(—sic) End to this event.”

Milo, who did not return a phone call, said on social media that he canceled his participation because of possible adverse impacts by the crowds on local neighborhoods. “Safety must come first,’’ Milo said, adding he did not want to condone “creating a dangerous situation for the participants, local residents of members of law enforcement.’’

The “chaotic” organization of the protest caused at least two people — Palm Beach resident Sunshine Henle and her husband, Buke Balantekin — to back out of the march.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to get close enough,” said Henle, who lives in a condo on the island’s south end. “The purpose of a protest is to get close to people to shake them up. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that. From all the way across the bridge, I’m doubtful that it will make enough impact.”

Henle, who suggested a march along the beach, said she wants protest organizers and activists to push more boundaries.

“I hope nothing happens that’s violent, but I do feel we need to be less passive and push through to stay on the bridge and get closer to Mar-a-Lago,” she said. “We’ve got to dig deep, be a little more brave and push those limits if we’re going to make real change and get out of our echo chambers.”

Meanwhile, some West Palm Beach residents said they’re worried about protestors trashing yards and blocking traffic in neighborhoods along the marching route.

“People are getting anxious,’’ said Lila Young, who lives in Prospect Park. “I hope West Palm Beach police will enforce the ‘No Parking’ signs. One of my neighbors emailed me and said she was attending the Red Cross Ball (at Mar-a-Lago) and didn’t know if she’d be able to get out of her driveway.’’

Taylor said participants are being told to be respectful of residential areas. Volunteer marshals will do their best to make sure traffic is not blocked.

“You will need to be personally responsible for yourself, your trash, your belongings, and your actions!” said a South Florida Activism post.

Protesters will gather in front of Trump Plaza, at 525 S. Flagler Drive at 5 p.m. The march itself will start at 6 p.m. and continue south to Greenwood Greenway.

A woman who lives in a house immediately west of the Greenway said she was horrified to learn the protesters will be right outside her living room window, which offers an expansive view of the Intracoastal Waterway.

“I’m all for free speech,’’ said the women, who would not give her name. “I just hope they realize this is a residential area.’’

Palm Beach Daily News staff writer Gregory Cox contributed to this story.



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