BOSTON – Hand-in-hand with thousands across the nation, Boston residents took to Boston Common on Monday for a “Not My President’s Day” rally in opposition of President Donald Trump and his recent policies.
In what has become a nationwide trend since the 45th president was inaugurated on Jan. 20, protesters stood in opposition to Trump on a wide range of issues. Among the concerns of those in the Common were women’s rights, immigration, lack of respect for veterans, potential ties to Russia and other foreign policy issues.
“Trump has no idea on any of this,” Julie Rogers of Georgetown, Massachusetts said. “He’s clueless. He’s just a showman. He doesn’t have any knowledge of the world. He’s insulting leaders everywhere.”
Julie and her husband, both adorned with cat-eared hats, were among the roughly twenty people that gathered just outside Park Street Station.
More were originally scheduled to attend the protest, which began at about noon, but the low turnout was due to the fact that the event’s organizer, Kofi Jones, was unable to obtain a permit by Monday.
The Facebook event pertaining to the event anticipated 172 to attend, and had an additional 587 interested. The protest’s description read, “Donald Trump does not represent our values. He is not our President.”
Boston’s rally paled in comparison to protests in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., but the fact that protesters still showed up despite the event’s official cancellation speaks to the liberal grassroots opposition to Trump in Massachusetts.
In November, Trump lost Massachusetts with 32.8 percent of the vote, and citizens like Dan Kontoff are concerned with how he is structuring the government.
“These are not government people working in the government,” Kontoff said. “And these are people who should not be in the government, that’s the problem. They’re working against everything they were picked to be in.”
Kontoff, who refers to himself as Dan the Bagel Man, is an activist and vendor outside of Park Street Station. Wearing a hat with roughly 75 buttons spanning decades and causes, he is known to many in the area for his outspoken political views.
In 1990, he received a warning from the landlord who manages pushcart vendors, and now is an advocate for “Act-Ma,” which helps to organize and promote progressive events in the Greater Boston area.
“Well, it’s not just Trump – it’s Pence,” Kontoff said. “And people don’t realize that he’s [Trump’s] security because if you impeach him, you get Pence – and he’s very well-connected in the Republican party, which is not too good. And his politics are anti-gay, anti-women – very evil. Trump doesn’t have those politics; he’s just doing some bad things.”
If you ask Joe Kebartas of South Boston, who was a medic in the Vietnam War, among those “bad things” is not taking care of veterans.
“[Trump] doesn’t stand with the veterans by sending the troops into Afghanistan and Iraq,” Kebartas said. “16 years of war, and you mean to tell me no one is protesting that? When I was in Vietnam, there were thousands of people on the street trying to save my life. Right? And they did save my life because I got a shorter tour. I got out of Vietnam a couple months earlier than I’d have to because the people protested, Nixon pulled me out, and I’m alive today because the people protested.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump said in a December phone call with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he would consider sending more troops to bolster the country’s security. Kebartas is dismayed by the fact that roughly one million people came to celebrate the Patriots’ recent victory in Super Bowl LI, but few are protesting the deployment of troops.
When it comes to Trump’s relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin, protesters expressed varying views.
There are concerns regarding Russian hacking during the election, Russian operatives having information that could be used to blackmail Trump, and most recently, a report from the New York Times that claimed multiple Trump aides had repeated contact with Russia during the campaign.
Trump has continually denied affiliations with Russia, stating in a Feb. 15 tweet that, “This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.” He has also blamed the “fake news” media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
“It might not be dangerous because there’s definitely a chance to talk – talk instead of troops,” Kebartas said.
Kontoff, though, was a bit more weary of Trump’s ties to Russia.
“We don’t know how bad Russia is or not,” Kontoff said. “Russia’s problem is the oil connections, and you also have to look at Trump’s connections. Where is his money connected to? Does he owe Russia a lot of money? And he does. I heard they bailed him out. And he owes big-time.”
Among the posters in the Common on Monday was one from Rogers that said, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” in reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s silencing of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Feb. 7.
Another referenced Boston’s status as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has pledged to protect all residents and would even use City Hall as a last resort.
In response to Trump’s claim that the media is the “enemy of the American people,” one poster read, “Fake your tan, not your news.”
“We need the press,” Rogers said. “The press needs to keep reporting the truth, you know. I think [the administration] is just telling lies. I think they’re continuing to tell lies so that everybody will start to believe the lies.”