By Tom Burke
Over 200 people from West Michigan rallied to “Dump Trump!” on December 21, 2015. Organized by the Grand Rapids Anti-War Committee along with immigrant rights groups and student activists, it was the largest protest seen at a Republican campaign rally in Grand Rapids that anyone remembers. Trump and his supporters were confronted by a large crowd waving signs and chanting in opposition to his campaign of racism and war.
Burton Kroes of IGE led chants on a bullhorn as Trump supporters entered the parking lot, “Dump Trump! Dump Trump!” and “Hey Donnie! Let’s be clear, refugees are welcome here!”
Mike DeRuiter, also with the Anti-War Committee, stood with a big “Dump Trump” banner, anchoring the spot where hundreds gathered to send a clear message. DeRuiter said, “Look, the last thing we need is another Wall Street politician like Donald Trump. We are out here to oppose Trump and the Republican agenda of hate, fear and war.”
DeRuiter, pointing across the road to where immigrants gathered to demand respect and equality said, “Immigrants contribute a lot to this country, while billionaires like Trump profit off of them. Trump wants to scapegoat Muslims and refugees when the real problem is Wall Street and its wars in the Middle East.”
Eleven different people disrupted Trump’s hour-long speech inside, as 6000 Trump supporters and curiosity seekers listened. There was wide local and national media coverage of the protesters and their progressive, pro-equality message. The Trump campaign seemed unprepared for such a large protest in a part of the country dominated by conservative billionaires like himself.
Republicans have not stirred this much controversy in Grand Rapids since Gerald R. Ford pardoned the impeached President Richard Nixon following the Watergate burglary scandal.