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Scenes from Rhode Island’s pro-Trump rally

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What would you say if a Trump supporter ran over a protester on the highway? … I would politely ask him to back up and finish the job.


Saturday’s Trump Rally, held on the south steps of the Rhode Island State House, contained all the ingredients one might expect from such an event – support for the police, casual racism, incitements to violence, Qanon conspiracists, Confederate flags, anti-abortion activists, vote by mail fearmongring, and a general aversion to wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The rally started with about an hour’s worth of music, from Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA to the Rolling Stones and Elton John. During this times, a lone anti-Trump activist walked onto the steps holding a sign that said, “Fuck Trump.” He stood there for about an hour, as Trump supporters gathered around him to block his sign and mock him. He stood on the steps for most of the rally.

Also during the time before the rally got underway the crowd cheered the arrival of state police officers, there to protect the crowd from the small group of counterprotesters that had gathered near Gaspee Street.

The rally got underway when caravan of Trump supporters arrived, increasing attendance at the rally to between 400 and 500 people.

Former State Representative Doreen Costa is one of the co-chairs of the Trump campaign here in Rhode Island and is running for State Senate in District 36 against Democrat Alana DiMario. Costa led the crowd in pledging allegiance to the flag.


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Chants:

Pro police chants:

The Chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Suzanne Cienki, told the crowd that they needed to vote early, using in-person voting. “Do not take the risk of voting by mail,” said Cienki, spreading fears about the safety of voting by mail. “Maybe your ballot will not show up.”

Cheers of support for President Donald Trump to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat.

Chants of “Trump runs Rhode Island!” :

Jerry Zarrella is co-chair of Trump’s Rhode Island re-election campaign. Zarella falsely claimed that Democratic presidential nominee Joseph Biden is going to make his son Hunter Biden the head of the Treasury Department.

Later in his speech, Zarrella pointed to the words etched into the Rhode Island State House, “To hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.” Zarrella then proceeded to ignore the meaning of the words.

“Look up there, just what does that say?” asked Zarrella. “Liberty. Religion. That’s what are country was founded on.”

“Isn’t there something about a Trump rally?” asked Zarrella. “It’s like going to the Patriots.”

Acknowledging that most of the Trump rally attendees don’t live in Providence, Zarella noted that “We can’t vote in Providence, but we should, because then there’d be a big change.”

Zarella concluded by saying, “You know what? Let the protesters protest. They have a right. But don’t let them get violent. Don’t engage them.” Turns out, not all the speakers got this message.

More chanting:

The first message about violence at the Trump rally:

“We have a message for the protesters: The next time they decide to go to Federal Hill, some Trump supporters might be up there to kick their ass.”

“Let’s talk Biden Harris,” said Rhode Island businessman Anthony Roposo. “Their campaign slogan, Bring Back Better, what the hell does that mean?”

Woman in crowd: “It’s in ebonic!”

For what it’s worth, Biden’s campaign slogan is actually. “Build Back Better.”

More cheers and chants:

The second incitement to violence: “What would you say if a Trump supporter ran over a protester on the highway? … I would politely ask him to back up and finish the job.”

Something to do with Allie’s Donuts:

Laura from Barrington:

More chanting:

“Those degenerate protesters are no match for the Trump crowd, am I right?”

Jerry Zarrella:

A plea to support down-ballot Republican candidates in the election, none of whom, aside from Doreen Costa, were permitted to speak.

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com