On the south corner of Routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station about 100 community members gathered to call for the impeachment of the 45th president of the United States July 2. And after hearing about the demonstration on Facebook, a few dozen of their neighbors assembled on the north corner of the intersection to voice their support for President Donald Trump (R). Though only six lanes of highway and a median separated the two groups, the ideological gulf between protestors and their interpretation of the first six months of the Trump presidency is seemingly growing by the second.
Members of political activist organizations The North Country Peace Group, Long Island Rising and others organized the Impeach Trump rally. The groups have been involved in organizing similar rallies since Inauguration Day Jan. 20 to speak out about Trump’s position on climate change, women’s health care rights, nuclear proliferation and to commemorate International Women’s Day. To coincide with The Women’s March on Washington D.C. Jan. 21, a sister march boasting attendance in the thousands took place at the same corner.
The march calling for Trump’s impeachment Sunday had a different feel from previous events for two major reasons — a sizable group of Trump supporters gathered across the street to oppose the rally, and attendance was substantially lower compared to not only the massive Jan. 21 event, but to all others organized by the groups of late as well.
Organizers from the two groups on the south corner pointed to the holiday weekend as an explanation for the waning number of attendees, rather than a potential decrease in enthusiasm for the Trump “resistance.”
Though citizens on both corners acknowledged the heated political discourse is having an overall negative effect on the country, neither seemed ready to concede any ground.
“The country has never been divided to the extent it is now, and the anger level is very, very high,” said Bill McNulty during the event, a member of the North Country Peace Group who has had a political radio talk show at Stony Brook University for 25 years. When asked how a rally calling for Trump’s ouster days before July 4th might contribute to that divide, McNulty suggested supporters of the president are among those most likely to suffer from his policies, especially regarding health care and the environment.
McNulty admitted discussion of Trump’s impeachment is premature due to the Republican majority in the House and Senate, and because investigations regarding possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian are still in the early stages.
“What we have to do now is draw together these different organizations and focus on a couple of particular points that will enable us to really throw a fright into these politicians,” he said, also conceding political opposition from his corner would be productive if focused on specific issues, though he didn’t back down from his belief Trump is not fit for office.
Across Route 347, most attendees declined to answer questions. Sean Bergin, a Ronkonkoma resident explained his motivation for occupying the north corner.
“They are out here actively trying to undermine a dually elected president,” he said, gesturing across the street. “The Democrat policies that they put forth have flooded Long Island’s streets with blood-thirsty gangsters in the form of MS13, and cheap heroin, which is killing our kids by the dozens and the hundreds every goddamn day. None of the media has the guts to point at Barack Obama’s failed immigration policies as the cause of that. We have a president now who’s putting a stop to that, and those people are terrified because they know it’s the end of the Democrat party.”
Jim Barr, a Selden resident, Trump supporter and President of Long Island ABATE, a group dedicated to the training and education of American bikers, said the source of the anger across the street is Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.
“This is the United States of America — key word ‘united,’” he said. “We’re all supposed to be on the same page. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. That’s the last person I would have voted for, but I didn’t cry when he got elected.”
Barr admitted he wished someone would screen the president’s tweets, but said he’s happy Trump hasn’t changed from his demeanor during the campaign.
Sound Beach resident Noreen Morrison, a member of Long Island Rising, explained the thinking behind a July 4th-weekend rally calling for the impeachment of a sitting president, and the possibility it could heat up political rhetoric.
“It’s the only thing we have available to us, peaceful protest,” she said. “I don’t want to see this country come to armed conflict between political factions.”
Though there has been chatter on the Democrat side, no substantial move towards impeachment has accumulated to this point.