Protesters Outnumbered by Trump Supporters
WHEELING — The “Friendly City” was witness to some terse words between supporters and non-supporters of President Donald Trump as hundreds of people lined Main Street on Saturday hours before his arrival at WesBanco Arena.
As the crowd grew and snaked its way up Main Street, the majority of those waiting were clearly Trump supporters. They sported hats, banners, T-shirts and carried signs and waved American flags. Trump was in Wheeling to give his support to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is seeking to unseat current U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at the polls on Nov. 6.
Wheeling resident Georgia Tamlosis stirred the crowd into chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump” when she walked down 14th Street while carrying a sign that read, “Make America Think Again” on one side and a picture of Trump with a pumpkin head reading “Boo Trump” on the other side.
“I’m a proud Greek immigrant and I am here to make people think,” she said.
At one point, she and a Trump supporter carrying a sign that read “Blacks for Trump 2020,” stood nearly toe-to-toe in a shouting match. Wheeling police officers moved a little closer to the protesters, but no physical violence occurred. Only a handful of anti-Trump protesters stood with Tamlosis as many in the crowd continued to shout their support for the President.
Also in attendance was a group of about 15 laid-off General Motors workers from the Lordstown Complex in northern Ohio. They are part of the Good Jobs Nation #PromisesBroken Pickup Tour. Tommy Wolikow and his wife, Rochelle, of Youngstown, Ohio, are members of the group and brought their three children along for the event. Wolikow was laid off from his job the day Trump was inaugurated.
He said he is one of 3,000 workers who were laid off because of offshoring of their jobs. He said the layoffs also affect others, such as the drivers who transport parts to the plant, and other related jobs.
“We’re here today because we want (Trump) to keep his promise of having jobs rolling back into America,” Wolikow said as he stood on 14th Street.
Rochelle added, “We have been forgotten.”
Mike Oles, also a spokesman for Good Jobs Nation, said the President needs to hold contractors accountable when they outsource jobs such as building U.S. fighter jets in Turkey.
In a handout, the group said, “Together, we are demanding that President Trump pick up his pen and deliver on this promise to stop offshoring. Many of these workers supported Trump’s presidential bid because they believed he would save their jobs.”
A Trump supporter, Rico Goodwin, of Waynesboro, Virginia, said it was his first time to attend a Trump rally, but said he felt compelled to make the trip to Wheeling. He was wearing a blue T-shirt that read, “Friendly, Gay, Trump Supporter,” and had an American flag banner draped around his shoulders.
Vendors selling Trump merchandise were doing a brisk business on the street while DiCarlo’s Pizza on Main Street was standing room only as visitors bought box after box of pizza.
Meanwhile, blocks away, The Upper Ohio Valley United Way and Wheeling’s Centre Market were hosting its Oktoberfest celebration. Visitors to the event were surprised, and in some cases, shocked to find copies of The Nationalist Times on the windshields of their vehicles. One such person, Rabbi Joshua Lief from Temple Shalom in Wheeling, said he was upset that someone would use a festival setting to spew such hatred.
He said the paper contained anti-Jewish and anti-black articles as well as editorial content in support of President Trump.
“It’s not a crime to have hateful beliefs,” Lief said. “I am absolutely a defender of free speech. I’m just surprised they would take the time to deliver hate speech to everyone attending Oktoberfest.
“I don’t feel threatened in any way as a Jew that it was left on my windshield,” he said. “I’m just a little shocked it happened on the same day the President was in town.”
Lief said the local Jewish community dates back to the 1840s, with many Jewish families of German descent.
“This had nothing to do with Oktoberfest … I do not believe these are the sentiments of the Republican Party,” Lief said. “I don’t attribute this to the President. I do wish the Republican Party would condemn that kind of sentiment.
“I’d like us, across party lines, to be decent people versus people who would like to rearrange our society and restructure it based on race. This is offensive.”