The two events — one backing Trump’s re-election and the other condemning police violence toward Black Americans — made separate and emphatic statements on Sunday.
Outside of Pirate’s Well restaurant in Lake Park, more than 150 vehicles lined up Sunday morning with American flags alongside President Donald Trump’s name or likeness. Some played the National Anthem, others shouted happy birthday to Trump and others took photos with French Bulldogs adorned in “Trump 2020” gear.
At about the same time, four dozen cars gathered at Dreher Park in West Palm Beach, in much of the same manner but with a different message: Justice and police reform. Their gathering mirrored that of several protests across the county and the world in recent weeks in the wake of several fatal police encounters with Black Americans.
The two scenes, containing dozens of residents from Palm Beach County, never crossed paths on Flag Day Sunday, and remained without incident with law enforcement agencies.
Team Trump 2020’s truck, motorcycle and boat parades kicked off Sunday in multiple places across Palm Beach County, but also the state, said Ann Vandersteel who works with Team Trump 2020.
Team Trump President Annie Marie Delgado said it was special opportunity to get together for the president’s birthday and flag day in the weeks after being inside as coronavirus closed a majority of the country down. Now, she said, their efforts are to get back on track and reelect the president.
“If you’re listening, Mr. President, we could use some help,” she said. “The Republican Party of Florida has abandoned us.”
Team Trump 2020 leaders have been critical of the GOP establishment in Florida. But Sunday’s show of support also comes as state and national polls register increasing disapproval of Trump’s handling of the presidency, while also signaling he has lost ground to presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Delgado, who organized events across the state, said in addition to celebrating Sunday, their biggest effort — which will continue in the weeks to come — was voter registration.
“We need more voters than our opponent,” she told the crowd before the parade through a megaphone. “We’re here to wave the flag, support our president and kick some ass.”
In Dreher Park, the Palm Beach Indivisibles gathered before a caravan seeking police reform amid several killings of Black Americans across the country, including George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Mark Beaumont, the group’s vice president, said they were there standing in solidarity more than two weeks after the killing of Floyd.
“Enough is enough,” he said Sunday. “Racism needs to be eradicated.”
The group sported signs such as “DON’T SHOOT,” “Silence is complicity,” “I can’t breathe” and “George Floyd, rest in power.”
Another read: “Oh you don’t see color? Nah, you don’t see the point.”
Sunday’s events were announced last week, before another fatal police shooting of a black man Friday night outside of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta. On Saturday, Atlanta’s police chief resigned over the death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks and the officer involved in the shooting was fired. During Saturday night’s protest, the Wendy’s restaurant was set on fire.
Michele de Araujo was among a handful of Palm Beach residents with the group Sunday in case police closed off the route to town residents only. During previous on-foot protests from West Palm Beach, the groups had been stopped by officers in riot gear when they attempted to cross any of the bridges on to the island.
On Sunday, the group drove past Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club and Florida residence. Later in the afternoon, several dozen boats adorned with Trump 2020 flags congregated near the Palm Beach residence while hunderds more congregated further south in Boca Raton.
De Araujo didn’t have any specific slogan or sign as others did as part of the caravan, but came as support.
“It’s just a demoralizing situation,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s on the backs of blacks, who are being treated like second class citizens.”
While neither of the parades on Sunday had issues with police or among each other, one young woman sitting in the passenger seat of a passing vehicle in Lake Park, stuck her upper body out of the window and yelled at the Trump supporters,
“(Expletive) you, you racists!”
In Lake Park, Trump flags and signs posted on trucks and t-shirts may have had different slogans, but all had the same endgame: Re-elect the president in 2020.
Several flags had the image of Trump’s head superimposed on the body of fictional movie character Rambo, complete with a machine gun in hand. Another flag and a red, white and blue locomotive that read, “All aboard the Trump train.” One car simply had a cardboard cutout of the president sticking out of the sunroof.
Derek Boyd Hankerson, who was part of Trump’s regional presidential campaign in 2016, looked around the group before they took off in trucks in celebration. Hankerson said Trump’s focus on the country and putting “America first” has supporters gathered together, in unity.
“This is a perfect reflection of America, abiding by the law, being respectful to those around them,” the Vero Beach resident said.
On Sunday, on his 74th birthday, Trump tweeted out the White House’s Flag Day proclamation.
“The American flag represents the unity of our country and its people. No matter what may divide us, Old Glory should be revered and cherished, as a symbol of all that makes America the greatest country in the world.”
Antonio Fins contributed to this story
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