They crowded the sidewalks as they marched down Flagler Street. They shouted all manner of anti-Donald Trump phrases. They marched over the Southern Boulevard bridge to President Donald Trump’s home in Palm Beach, the Mar-a-Lago, walking through dozens of pro-Trump demonstrators yelling at them. They finally arrived across the street from the house of the man who was the target of their rage -- yelling and chanting in front of riot police.
Then at 9 p.m. they all left.
No arrests. No reports of violence. No fights reported between protesters and pro-Trumper supporters. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, at least 3,000 people marched 2.5 miles along Flagler Drive from the West Palm Beach Trump Plaza to President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach Home, Mar-a-Lago. The event was lead by South Florida Activism, which also led the West Palm Women’s Rally on January 21. Trump does not own the West Palm plaza.
Protesters gathered outside of Trump Plaza around 5 p.m., where they held signs and chanted the usual slogans.
“No Donald Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!” — A common chant at anti-Trump protests.
“Her body! Her choice!” — Referring to reproductive rights.
“No wall! No ban!” — Referring to Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and the temporary anti-Muslim travel ban he instated last weekend.
“If you rearrange the letters in PRESIDENT TRUMP you get MR. PUTIN’S RED PET,” one sign stated, implying that Trump obeys Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“IKEA has better cabinets,” another sign stated, referring to Trump’s cabinet picks, which have enraged liberals.
Science fiction fan Thomas Robinson held a Star Wars-themed anti-Trump sign. It depicted the Statue of Liberty as Princess Leia strangling Trump the Hutt, with a Mike Pence creature at his side. “He’ll launch the nukes,” Robinson said. “He’s already building a wall on our behalf.”
As the crowd marched down Flagler, a few people waving flags of Palestine and Soviet Russia managed to get to the front. One of those men -- dressed in a black beanie, black jacket and black pants, going by the name Johann -- had a bullhorn and screamed into it, “Fuck the police!” Protesters behind the communist-themed men shook their heads in dismay. “No, be polite,” one shouted back. “Stay on message” shouted another.
“Hey, they’re just out doing their jobs,” yelled an off-duty West Palm officer, who said he was marching for two friends who could not be there -- one is Muslim and the other a gay Mexican.
Johann and the other men refused to say why they felt so strongly about West Palm Beach Police officers who made sure protesters stayed off the street, out of traffic.
Volunteers along the march route set up tables where they gave out water to protesters. When the march reached Southern Boulevard, several hundred protesters broke off from the main group to walk across the Southern Boulevard bridge, where a few dozen pro-Trump demonstrators parked their cars and pickup trucks to yell at marchers.
One man waving a Betsy Ross flag yelled “Homos go back to Canada,” which amused the Trump supporter standing a few feet next to him. The flag-waver yelled “You’re a baby killer,” at a protester, who got in a shouting match with him about abortion, before a cop next to them broke up the argument, saying, “Alright alright, I can see both sides of the issue, just keep going.”
Erwin Nieto, a gay Panamanian Trump voter, waved a rainbow flag and carried a sign denouncing terrorism committed by Muslims. He supports Trump banning travel to America from Iran Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. “If they believe those countries are responsible, that’s why they’re doing it,” Nieto said. No Americans have been killed by citizens of those countries between 1975 and 2015, a report by the Cato Institute found.
Nieto said he is not worried about Trump being anti-LGBT either, despite his choice of Vice President Mike Pence, who wanted to spend Indiana taxpayers’ money on gay conversion programs when he was governor of the state. “I think Trump converted him,” Nieto said about Pence, although there is no evidence Pence has changed his anti-LGBT positions.
While Nieto and other pro-Trump supporters held their positions, protesters by 8 p.m. marched to the Palm Beach side of the bridge. They were met with more than a dozen Palm Beach Sheriff’s deputies wearing riot gear, blockading the intersection of Southern and South Ocean Boulevard. Deputies kept protesters on the grass across from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
For the next hour, demonstrators chanted phrases like “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” Many jeered at the body-armor-and-riot-mask-equipped cops, chanting “Hey you’re cute,” and urging them to remove their clothes.
The crowd yelled “Boo” and “Shame on you” whenever they saw people driving into the Mar-a-Lago estate to attend the 60th annual American Red Cross Ball, a fundraiser.
At one point, officers brought out a tank-like vehicle, but never used it.
Then at 9 p.m., when the march was scheduled to end, protesters left. Officers followed them to make sure no demonstrators turned back to Trump’s estate.
Some protesters called friends to get a ride back home. Some started to make the 40-minute trek back to their cars parked in downtown West Palm. And despite the backlash Uber got for its CEO being a Trump advisor, some protesters called on Uber to come get them.