President Donald Trump’s visit to Southampton Friday to attend a fundraiser at the home of Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs Chairman Howard Lorber was barely a blip on the Washington press corps’ radar screen, but, for East Enders, it proved a boiling point of heated sentiment against the highly controversial president.
Nearly 100 protesters gathered in the sticky heat at the west corner of Halsey Neck Lane and Hill Street in Southampton just before noon in the hopes of greeting Mr. Trump’s motorcade with a barrage of chants and signs expressing their discontent with the president, while a smattering of his supporters gathered on the east corner of the intersection.
The protest was hastily organized by longtime activist Lisa Votino-Tarrant, who had learned about the president’s visit three days earlier, but who said most of the protesters found out about it that very morning.
She said the Village of Southampton hadn’t required a permit for them to be there, as long as they didn’t block traffic or trespass on private property.
Protesters had no difficulty expressing their disgust with the president, and they brought with them a wide range of complaints. They were met with many hearty cheers and honks from passing motorists, and an occasional raised middle finger or heckle.
“I’m furious about them rescinding John Brennan’s security clearance,” said Bonnie Doyle. “It’s a slap in the face of democracy.”
“He lies too much,” said Janis Hurley of Eastport. “He’s destroying the environment and rolling back EPA standards… He thinks he can repeat things and make them true.”
Judith Verno of Water Mill, wearing a shirt that said “F@#k Trump” and carrying a sign that said “Impeach Trump” said Mr. Trump’s rolling back of environmental regulations and the way he treats immigrants and women are two of her biggest concerns.
“It has to end,” she said.
Her mother, Helen Verno, was visiting her daughter from Santa Monica, Calif. She also carried an “Impeach Trump” sign.
“I’m opposed to racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia,” she said. “I believe in evolution and progress.”
Across the street, two mothers and Trump supporters had brought their children to see the president’s motorcade.
Janet Mance, a descendent of the Southampton founding family Pelletreau, brought her two sons, Kevin and Kolby, and a cardboard cutout of the president.
“I’ve never been more in love with a man in my life,” she said of the president, adding that she appreciates that he does what he says he’s going to do.
“I need my children to have a voice” in the future of the country, she said.
Leonor Silva, who came to the United States from Venezuela in 1999, brought her two children in a stroller. She said she’d found out about the president’s visit the day before, and decided she wanted to represent a seldom-heard story from a Trump supporter.
“We’re not racists or xenophobic. I support his policies. I like that he keeps his promises,” she said, adding that leftist policies had left her home country in a shambles.
“I understand what it’s like to live in a socialist country,” she said, adding that she believes immigrants should follow the legal procedures in place for coming to this country.
“He’s really misunderstood,” she added. “People only read headlines. He’s making America great.”
Ms. Silva said she believes America is great because of the spirit of freedom here, and said that many Americans take the freedoms of speech we have here for granted.
Back across the street, however, the disgust for the president was palpable.
“He’s gotta go,” said Shilo Newcomb of the Shinnecock Nation, who was holding a sign that said “Lock Him Up!!! Dump Trump.”
“He claimed to drain the swamp, but he’s created a swampier swamp. He’s been a criminal since before he became president,” she said, adding that her biggest concern was his “lack of compassion for Americans, for human beings.”
“He’s disgusting,” she added.
Young Dylan Berrocol was holding a sign that read “instead of helping the states, you’re hurting the states.”
“I don’t like Trump at all,” he said. “He deports a lot of people who want a better family.”
Julia McNamara of Sag Harbor, who is going into her senior year at the Fashion Institute of Technology, helped to start a Democratic club on campus. She was holding a sign that read “Putin’s Puppet,” but when asked her biggest concern, she said “women’s rights.”
“And he’s Putin’s Puppet,” she added.
“I want my kids, especially if I have girls, to grow up in a world where they feel equal,” she said.
She added that she’s working to help college students learn more about how they can vote by absentee ballot in their home districts while they’re away at school.
“We have a lot of strength together,” she said.
As a Suffolk County Police helicopter circled overhead nearing 1 p.m., the president’s motorcade began to approach, but only two motorcycles arrived at the Halsey Neck Lane intersection. The president and the rest of his entourage instead ducked down Lee Avenue, two streets west, as protesters filmed the departure and opined that our leader was a coward for taking the back roads.
There were mutterings from the crowd that he just could be the worst president since Jefferson Davis led the Confederacy. But they were short-lived. The heat index was flirting with triple digits, and, after two hours in the heat, everyone disbursed quickly back to the regular routine of a summer Friday in the Hamptons: sitting in traffic.