RICHMOND— Demonstrators began gathering off Eastern Bypass across from the Alumni Coliseum around 2 p.m. on Saturday ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Eastern Kentucky University’s campus.
Hundreds of protestors held signs that included messages like, “Pussy fights back,” “Make America Kind Again,” “Girls just want to have fundamental rights” and “I believe Dr. Blasey Ford.” Others chanted, "Hey Donald, you can't deport my mama" and "Hands too small, can't build a wall" among other rhymes.
Among the protestors were members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, EKU students and members of the Kentucky Dream Coalition.
At the head of the chants was George Brosi, who has been active in the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth for around 50 years and mainly works in the Madison County chapter. He said he hoped others would be inspired by his active protest against Trump.
“My goal is to encourage people to be active in Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and that includes voting,” he said.
Brosi said he is most worried that “the son of a b**** will win rather than Amy,” referring to Andy Barr’s race against Amy McGrath for the 6th district representative. He said that Barr is the one doing attack ads, and he doesn’t like “that kind of politics.”
“I want our politicians to be people that promote their own values instead of attacking the other side and people who don’t lie to the American people,” he said, adding that he is concerned about Barr’s views on health care and his campaign tactics.
He said during his time canvassing for McGrath, he has talked to a lot of people door to door and he thinks “people are offended by Barr’s attack ads and I think people find Amy McGrath to be refreshing when she says she’s for our country over party.”
He also said he admires the bipartisanship her campaign has demonstrated.
“I’ve heard her at explicitly Democratic events say ‘I married a Republican and I registered as an Independent' and people cheer for her. And I think that’s refreshing,” he said.
Brosi said the large crowds gathered to attend the Trump rally reminded him of a football tailgate or a pow wow gathering.
“It’s an opportunity for people to reinforce their political feelings.”
He also said he wishes people would be better informed about politics.
“I wish people cared more about our country. I wish more people were more worried about politicians’ lies,” he said. “I wish people cared about babies after they're born as well as before they’re born.”
Another protester, Kristina Anderson, was among the first group to arrive. She is a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the president of Harvey Milk at Berea College and a co-organizer of Berea Pride.
Anderson said her goal for protesting Trump’s visit to Kentucky is to “inspire other people who might be kind of upset and discouraged by the presence of Donald Trump here.” She said she would like to inspire voters to get out and vote on election day.
She said her personal objective is also to bring awareness to climate change issues.
“Trump’s getting out of the Paris Climate Accord and the recent study with the IPCC stating that we don’t have much time to get below 2 degrees Celsius and it’s probably something we definitely are going to see within our lifetime so I’m working towards change for that,” she said.
Anderson said she thinks McGrath, not Barr, is right for Kentucky because, “he is not very open to listening to the people” especially regarding health care, but said she feels McGrath listens.
“I think she has proven that she is very dedicated to listening to the people of Madison County,” she said.
After 5 p.m., more protestors joined the hundreds across from Alumni Coliseum by standing next to vendors selling “MAGA” paraphernalia on the sidewalk closest to Alumni Coliseum. There, Elizabeth Agnew faced off with a Trump supporter who she said tried to “persuade my opinion.”
“My goal isn’t to argue with people,” she said. “My goal isn’t to change an opposing view. My goal is to simply share my voice peacefully. It’s my right as an American.”
Agnew held a sign that said, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” with lists of names of her friends, fellow students and Lexingtonians who she said could not make it to the protest but whom she wanted to represent. She is a junior at EKU studying secondary English education.
She said her main reason for holding her sign was to “share my voice, just as an American. I know everyone has opposing views, but this is me simply trying to share mine.”
Agnew said the issue concerning her most about the Barr versus McGrath election is that young people aren’t voting, and she wants them to take the time to do so.
“I think the most important thing is that we vote,” she said. “It’s our future.”