Monday, July 17, 2017

#TrumpWorld & #USWomensOpen: This Is Not Normal

Members of SOMA stage a peaceful, silent protest at the LPGA Women's Open at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, NJ, July 16, 2017

First, congratulations to all the women who participated in the LPGA Women's Open July 14-16. Golf is their job, their passion, their life. This post is not about them.

However, this post is about women--and men--standing up for women everywhere. It's about exercising our Constitutional right to stand up to the Misogynist in Chief, the liar, the cheater, the narcissist who pretends to want to 'Make America Great Again', but only if it starts and ends with his bottom line; who sees the presidency merely as a career move; who is an embarrassment to all this great nation stands for.


Every weekend that Trump stays at his golf course in Bedminster, protest motorcades, led by this guy, drive past the entrance, and culminate with a rally at the corner of Rt. 206 and Lamington Rd. 

Somerset and Hunterdon Counties (Trump National Golf Club is in Somerset but borders Hunterdon) are smack dab in the middle of what I like to call the 'healthy, wealthy and white' NJ suburbs. Once mostly horse and agriculture farms (Jackie O rode here), they survived the McMansion invasion of the 80s-00s, and are now, thanks to a great deal of farmland preservation, still mostly green. However, their political bent is far more red. Lamington Rd. is a combination of one long driveway after another snaking toward houses that can't be seen (and the owners like it that way, thank you very much), bucolic horse farms, and quaint, old farmsteads that managed to survive the suburban explosion. Once a year we have a hot air balloon festival, and that's about as much crazy traffic as we want in this part of the most densely populated state in the country. But since January 20th, it's been Situation Normal: All F'd Up

I participated in the July 4th weekend motorcade. Lamington Rd. is a popular cycling route, and on that day, some cyclists gave us a thumbs up, most had no reaction, but one in particular flipped us the bird and shouted, "F--k you! Freedom!" Whose freedom? His? Ours? Our country's? Funny thing about some Trump supporters: they think they have the market cornered on patriotism. They so quickly forget that this country was founded on patriotic protests and civil disobedience. And in one of the reddest parts of a traditionally blue state, the protests were about to get a lot more creative.

Ratcheting up the actions

Much as they tried to keep the protesters off Lamington Rd, event organizers weren't able to squash the message. In addition to the anti-Trump signs placed on the Rt. 78 overpasses leading up to the golf club exit, and a protest motorcade outside the club entrance, three other actions were carried out inside the event on Sunday despite organizers putting the kibosh on signs and any large bags that they may have been stashed in. But hey, who needs signs? In the spirit of golf and out of respect for the players, all actions were silent.

First, a group of us from the motorcade, who also belong to Progressive Hunterdon Democrats, NJ7Forward (a grass roots organization working to oust Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018), and NJ Working Families among others, secured a block of tickets to the event. Dressed in pink, in honor of the Million Women's March, and sporting pink umbrellas, we staged a photo op outside the clubhouse, adjacent to the bullet proof viewing box.

Second, SOMA (South Orange/Maplewood Action) staged what I thought was the most effective event of the weekend. Once inside, they donned these shirts, posed for pics, then walked arm-in-arm through the crowd: 

One event supervisor politely reminded the women that walking arm-in-arm could be distracting to the players. He also wished them a "good time". But notice in this video how the paid thug security guard tried to block us from shooting video. It was in this area that we received the most push-back from spectators--and the most support, with one police officer saying he supported us. And speaking of police, suddenly there was a noticeable presence in our immediate area--including bullet proof vests. In the second video in this link, you can hear me talking with the officer who apparently had to put it on, in 90 degree weather, before coming to speak with us. But it was a friendly exchange, and overall, they wanted to make sure we were safe. 

We love our police officers!

The Grand Finale

The grand finale was a demonstration by members of the national anti sexual violence group, UltraViolet. After being on my feet for almost five hours in 90 degree heat, I didn't stay for their action. But they clearly had the most impact as they staged it at the closing ceremony, just as Trump entered his bullet proof box and waved to the largest crowds of the day.
Hope Singsen of New York City was one of those demonstrating for UltraViolet, who earlier in the day staged a motorcade outside the grounds to express their displeasure with the U.S. chief executive. 
"Like millions of women and men I am the victim of sexual violence," Singsen told Reuters. "I've been nauseated by the fact that somebody with this guy's past and pleasure in abusing women is in this position of leadership. 
"Anything that I can do to bring about a change in that situation, I will be there doing it."

This is why we march. This is why we protest. This is why we resist. This is not normal. 

Photo credits: 
The photo of Tim and Dominae Levielle was taken by Philadelphia Inquirer staff photographer, Marcus Hayes.
The photo of the UltraViolet members and the protest sign were by Larry Fine of Reuters.