Protesters at Saturday’s pro-Trump Spirit of America Rally in Nashville railed against capitalism and the president’s immigration policies while showing support for Planned Parenthood and other leftist causes.
The first protesters to arrive were the most radical. Many were dressed in black hoodies and jackets with kerchiefs covering the bottom portion of their faces. Waving signs reading “Resist and Replace Capitalism” and “Impeach President Bannon,” they spewed obscenity-filled tirades through bullhorns at people who came to the rally to support Trump. A young woman carried a sign cursing Trump in Spanish and a young man carrying a “Coexist” banner and wearing a “F*** Trump” t-shirt shouted vulgarities at women.
“That’s craziness right there,” said Trump supporter Jeanette Coke, pointing at the protesters. “You’re looking at pure craziness.”
The commotion caught two young women here for a weekend visit from Georgia off guard. They came across the protesters soon after arriving in town. “They need to put their diapers back on and put their pacifiers in and go back home,” said one of the women, who would only give her name as Sandy. “Whether you voted for him or not, he’s our president.”
Numerous state troopers stood by a barricade separating the protesters from people attending the rally. There were about 100 protesters total by later in the day. Those who arrived later came waving Planned Parenthood signs and chanting “Not hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” and carrying signs reading “Ban Cowards Not Refugees.”
Pro-Trump supporters gathered to shout back at the protesters. In response to Trump supporters being called Nazis, one man shouted, “If I wanted to be a Nazi, I’d join you.” Others shouted at the protesters to get educated and read a book.
Scott Douglas, a biker who rides with various Christian ministries, stood by ready to act if things spun out of control. As for listening to angry speech, Douglas said that’s part of living in a free society. “They have freedom to do what they’re doing and we have freedom to do what we’re doing,” he said, adding that Americans are lucky to have such an opportunity in a world in which many places put limits on free speech.
Leigh Jones stood out from the crowd with her signs reading “Civil Discourse” and “Seek Common Ground.” “We’re divided,” she said. “We can’t stand if we’re divided. Divided we fall.” She said shouting at each other won’t solve anything and that people need to listen to each other. “That’s how we’re going to get out of this,” she said.
Earlier in the day, a girl in a hoodie stole two pro-Trump t-shirts from a vendor table before the rally got started. The girl threw the t-shirts in a trash can before the police caught up with her a couple blocks away, said conservative grassroots activist Connie Hunter who was working at the table and linked the culprit’s action to an atmosphere of protest and chaos inspired by Barack Obama. “It’s time for Obama’s lawlessness to be over and done,” Hunter said.