C’mon ride the train: Trump parade draws more than 600 cars
Trump parade draws more than 600 cars
HOUGHTON — As a show of support for President Donald Trump, more than 600 cars participated in a parade from Houghton to Calumet, drawing a counterprotest of about 75.
“The silent majority is just dying to speak up,” said organizer Naomi Leukuma. “President Trump takes a lot of heat every day, and this is a way to show him our support and respect. And if people would review history, there’s a really common thread” — communism, she said — that’s about to repeat itself.”
Leukuma said Trump’s biggest accomplishments in his term have been the Mideast peace deals, including recent agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the continued drop in the Black unemployment rate during Trump’s administration prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, hitting a record low of 5.4% in August 2019. (The rate was 13% in August, down from 16.8% in May.)
Cars and trucks flew flags with “Trump 2020,” “Keep America Great” and depictions of Trump as Rambo. Some also waved homemade signs or decorated their cars with slogans such as “4 More Years.”
The cars drove through Houghton, then crossed the bridge to Lake Linden, taking U.S. 41 back through Hancock.
Matt Heikkinen of South Range said Trump had proven his support of the working class, citing lower taxes and the job gains prior to the COVID-19 epidemic. He also contrasted Trump’s reduced military conflicts overseas with other recent presidents.
He described the parade as “a real look at the polls.”
“I think people should take a look at how many in their own community actually have those same values that they believe are represented by the president, and they’re looking forward to another four years as opposed to what we had suffered through previously,” he said.
Ralph Sackett of Baraga said his top reasons included his appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices — two so far, and another potentially to come with the nomination Saturday of Amy Coney Barrett. A former law enforcement officer at the Baraga prison, Sackett also credited Trump for strong support for police and the military, in which his wife and their son have both served.
“Promises made, promises kept,” he said.
Leukuma was not surprised by Sunday’s turnout.
“On my business page, I can see how many people reach, but not too many will speak up,” she said. “But I know they’re looking. People want to defend our freedoms from communism, or the deep state, whatever word you’d like.”
Cars met at Michigan Technological University, filling much of the Rozsa Center parking lot and an adjoining lot.
In a statement Friday after criticism regarding the use of Michigan Technological University property as a staging area, the university said approval granted to an external group to use university space should not be regarded as an endorsement.
“Michigan Technological University is a public institution, and our outdoor (and many indoor) spaces are available for public use,” Tech said. “Any individual or group may submit a request to use our outside grounds, even if that individual or group is not affiliated with the University. When reviewing those requests, Michigan Tech – in keeping with the First Amendment of the US Constitution – does not discriminate based on viewpoint.”
Pro-Trump and anti-Trump viewers also watched along Shelden Avenue in Houghton. By the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, about 75 counterprotesters watched the parade. They held signs such as “Resist Fascism, Resist Trump” and “Unless You’re in the 1%, Donald Trump is Not Your Friend.”
Olivia Torola of Hancock said she feared for the future of the planet if Trump is elected, as well as the erosion of rights for women and the LGBTQ community. She was also appalled at Trump’s push to confirm Barrett with voting for the general election already underway.
“It’s especially hard because we’re seeing people we went to high school with and some of our family members on the wrong side of history through this,” she said. “I hope they realize they’re wrong, but that’s where we are.”
The counterprotest was a way to show that anti-Trump voices also exist in the Upper Peninsula, said her sister Alice Torola, also of Hancock.
“It’s not all these white racists,” she said. “We’re out here trying to fight for rights. We shouldn’t have to, but we’re here and we’ll keep doing it over and over again … I’m sorry I want you to have free health care.”
Trump paraders and counterprotesters exchanged words and gestures at the bridge. However, the event was peaceful, Houghton Lt. Nick Roberts said.
“We didn’t realize it was going to be so big, with so many people here,” he said. “We haven’t heard of any injuries or anything like that, so as far as we’re concerned, everybody was able to do what they wanted to do safely.”
Editor’s note: Keep an eye out this week for more parade and protest photos.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to more accurately reflect the sentiments of Olivia Torola.