There weren’t any arrests, but there was plenty of shouting, sign-waving and chanting in the plaza in front of City Hall during a raucous hours-long protest Thursday against Donald Trump’s rally in Portland.

“Hey, Trump, let’s be clear. Racists are not welcome here,” the crowd roared from behind a metal barricade on one half of the plaza. About 10 feet away, a long line of people, many wearing Trump gear, waited to go inside Merrill Auditorium. By noon the protesters numbered more than 100, and several speakers urged the crowd to reject what they called Trump’s message of hate.

“I’m here to tell you that Donald Trump is not fit to be commander in chief,” said Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The list of insults to our vets and our service members is too long. He uses veterans as props.”

Among the protesters was Portland’s Democratic mayor, Ethan Strimling, who led the crowd in a chant of “Love trumps hate” while holding aloft a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

“We have someone who doesn’t believe in this document,” Strimling said. “We have to reject that. As mayor of this city, I had to be here today because Donald Trump doesn’t represent us. He doesn’t represent our values.”

Also in the crowd, holding an anti-Trump sign, was former Mayor Mike Brennan.


A few blocks away at Monument Square, another protest was held by a group of lawyers, law professors and others with ties to southern Maine’s legal community. The Ad Hoc Committee to Say NO to Donald Trump had taken out a half-page ad Wednesday in the Portland Press Herald asking people to “Stand up for Maine values.”

“Racism is not what we’re about in Maine,” said Merle Nelson, 81, a former state representative from Portland, as she waved a sign at passing motorists. “It’s not what we’re about in America. Hate. He has to know he can’t just go around America breeding hate.”

Mel Morales, 26, rushed over to the rally after work.

“A lot of people are saying no to Trump, but it’s really no to hate,” the Portland resident said. “I want to live in a place where there is respect for equality. Trump stands against that.”


Inside Merrill Auditorium, protesters interrupted Trump several times, prompting him to joke that he hasn’t had many protesters lately: “I miss my protesters,” he said.


He largely ignored the outbursts, and protesters were booed and shouted down by his supporters.

Trump’s speech was first interrupted when about eight people stood up and held copies of the U.S. Constitution over their heads before being escorted out. Other protesters were more vocal, with one man shouting at Trump to release his tax returns.

Outside, speakers organized by the Maine People’s Alliance, a grassroots organization that promotes liberal public policies, and the Maine Democratic Party, told the crowd that Trump doesn’t represent Maine.

“Veterans deserve a president who will honor their service,” said Tom McClain, an Air Force veteran who flew 205 combat missions in Vietnam as a B-52 co-pilot. Trump’s remarks about the Khans, a Muslim-American family whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, and his anti-Muslim stance “proved once again that he is callous and unfit to serve in any elected capacity,” McClain said.

While there was plenty of shouting, the interactions between Trump supporters and protesters were generally peaceful.

However, after most Trump supporters had gone inside to hear his speech, the back-and-forth shouting got more intense and Portland police officers formed a line between the protesters and the handful of Trump supporters. At one point, police guided a shirtless Trump supporter back behind the orange barricade where people had been waiting to go inside after he began shouting expletives and had gotten close to the protesters.



Protesters remained on the plaza and in nearby intersections until almost 5 p.m., when the throng began thinning out. In addition to chanting, the crowds occasionally sang “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful,” as well as “Happy Birthday” to President Obama, who turned 55 Thursday.

Portland School Board member Pious Ali told the protest crowd that he represents three groups disparaged by Trump.

“I am black. I am an immigrant. And I am a Muslim. And all three of my identities are part of what makes this country great,” Ali said to cheers.

Anthony Marvin, 23, of Portland held up a sign reading, “Keep hate out of Maine.”

A Trump supporter, eyeing the protesters, remarked, “The freaks are here. Get a job!”


Most of the comments by Trump supporters were side comments made while walking past the protesters, both before and after the Trump rally. When pro-Trump protesters started to shout, the anti-Trump protesters would start a chant to drown it out.

Several protesters held signs that featured photos of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq and whose parents were criticized by Trump. Some signs bore the phrase “Love trumps hate.”

Lynn Lockwood of Topsham, who had a Khan sign, said Trump’s insulting manner toward the Khans “revealed his lack of understanding and lack of human kindness.”

Linda McDevitt of South Portland held a “Bernie 2016” sign issued during Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Handwritten on the sign was the word “Hillary” with an image of a heart.

McDevitt said she was surprised to see the number of young people in the line of Trump supporters.

“There’s a lot of young faces, which is very disheartening,” she said. “That’s a little frightening.”

Staff Writer Penelope Overton contributed to this report.


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