Organizers of this week’s demonstrations both supporting and critical of President Donald Trump say they’re pleased with mostly peaceful expressions while he visited Springfield.
As anti-Trump protesters gathered at the local Teamsters Hall before marching to Commercial Street, the president’s supporters lined Kearney Street as Trump’s motorcade rode by. Springfield police say there were no arrests stemming from the events.
Rob Ross, a member of the event “Patriots Protecting Trump” said, “It was 95 percent civil, and I think the reason you didn’t see anything escalate, (is because) the Springfield Indivisible had actual peacekeepers that were going through the crowd, and they were wandering back and forth and making sure people weren’t getting in each other’s faces.”
Ross said he was thankful people could express themselves freely, without fear of backlash from either side. He said letting one’s voice be heard is “cathartic” and opportunities to release our grievances, in a civil way, is needed.
“We don’t have to hate each other just because we disagree. And the idea that I will listen to what you have to say and wait my turn to speak and hear what you have to say—even if I don’t agree with it and even if you aren’t going to change my mind—that makes a huge difference in releasing people’s tension,” he said.
Several hundred people, many waving American flags and holding Trump signs, were estimated to have gathered along the motorcade route, spread out over several blocks.
Meanwhile, over 1,000 are said to have joined anti-Trump protests, called “The People’s Protest” and organized by Springfield Indivisible. Demonstrators held signs along Glenstone Ave. between Commercial and Division St.
Dr. Roger Ray, pastor with Springfield’s Community Christian Church; partnered with Springfield Indivisible to plan the protest.
Ray says representatives from both sides agreed to keep actions civil, and is happy there was no violence or arrests.
“We promised each other, that we would make it a non-violent event, and that we would respect each other’s beliefs. And I think we did it,” said Ray.
Dr. Jonathan Groves, an associate professor of communication at Drury University, explored Kearney St. where both Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters had gathered.
He said although heard some provocative language by both sides, demonstrators kept to themselves for the most part and never let it escalate.
“At the end of the day, I was really glad that I went,” said Groves. “It was a really great experience and it was really great to see American expression in action. And (I enjoyed) seeing American citizens expressing themselves on all sides of an issue and being able to do it in a heated environment, without it breaking down like Charlottesville did.”
Ray says he hopes Springfield can continue to peacefully protest in the future.
Trump visited to Springfield to unveil is tax overhaul proposal. The event was closed to the general public, although some 1,500 people – mainly employees and invited guests - watched from inside the Loren Cook Company. A week earlier, Trump held a campaign-style rally in Phoenix. There, police at one point needed to deploy gas and pepper spray to separate the president’s supporters and protesters.