COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A small and peaceful pro-Trump rally at the Ohio Statehouse broke into a rowdy clash of words Saturday as opponents of the Republican president arrived on the scene.
Supporters of President Donald Trump, many clad in red, white and blue, had gathered as part of a national March 4 Trump event supporting the president.
They sported signs such as “Christians for Trump” and “This is My Women’s March.”
When a band of anti-Trump protesters arrived around noon Saturday, Trump backers began loudly chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A.” Some yelled, “Losers!”
The anti-Trump group shouted, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” and “Not my president,” while waving such signs as, “Not Fit to Serve – No Mandate.”
The extraordinary clash of several hundred people in one of America’s most closely-divided battleground states featured chanting and name-calling as well as opposing activists leaning in to try to hear each other out on the unconventional president.
The event remained mostly non-violent as it stretched over several hours, with the exception of some reports of some punching, shoving and kicking.
But Trump supporter Margaret Howe, 57, of Pataskala, said she was alarmed by the hooded and threatening look of some of the anti-Trump protesters. She said she increasingly fears civil war.
“We did not want to have something like this happen,” she said, adding, “We came out today because Trump deserves to see he still has people for him, because of these people. It’s just all sad.”
Howe said she voted for Trump because he promised to restore the American values — particularly God and country — that she’s seen eroding over the years.
Anti-Trump protester Rachel McCandlish, 40, of Fairfield County, said she was surprised to hear that Trump supporters didn’t expect to see opponents of Trump at their event.
“This is the United States. We’re allowed to disagree when we see our values slipping away,” she said. “I’m here standing for goodness and kindness and what I think are good American values.”
McCandlish’s list of American values includes environmental protection and welcoming immigrants. She said she hopes the two sides can find common ground.