YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local and state leaders of the Democratic Party, along with hundreds of protesters, had a message for President Donald Trump: “Your visit is not welcome.”
They rallied Tuesday night against Trump and his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The group protested on Youngstown’s Central Square, just blocks away from the Covelli Centre, where the president spoke.
“There’s hundreds of people here, all bringing their homemade signs, reminding the Valley residents that — I’m going to give them a little history lesson — Mahoning County did not vote for Donald Trump. This is not Donald Trump territory,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras.
Protesters showed the most concern when it came to Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare.
“There’s so many obstacles in getting health care now. You’re going to put one more thing in their way. They’re just not going to get any help in their addictions or mental health problems,” Nancy Sacmar said.
Others felt compelled to speak about the Russian investigation.
“He lies, he’s corrupt, and I think the people he surrounds himself with are as well,” Jane Sipus said.
About an hour into the rally, attention shifted to Trump supporters who wanted their voices heard, too. Independents were there as well, hoping to find middle ground with others.
Tony Kelly — one of the protesters — said the political environment used to be different.
“I don’t want to say we were always together politically but we kind of always had each other’s backs, and now we’re just at each other’s throats and it’s not a good thing.”
The protest continued until Trump started his speech a little after 7 p.m. At that point, the protestors made their way to the Covelli Centre, too.
Two people speaking out against the president were removed from the arena by security.
Earlier on Tuesday, local Democrats had another demonstration outside of Northside Medical Center in Youngstown.
Betras, along with Ohio State Democratic Chairman David Pepper and Youngstown mayoral candidate Tito Brown, spoke against Trump’s visit.
They said the president made several promises on the campaign trail that he had broken, adding that the visit was distracting from real issues.
“He pledged to drain the swamp. He pledged to get rid of China. None of those things I’ve seen,” Brown said. “I can tell you I’ve watched from the inside and outside. Those things have not happened. We must hold him accountable.”
Brown called the president to stay true to his pledge to protect Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
Betras said Trump should focus on renegotiating trade agreements, which he said will help the economy.
“We need family-sustaining jobs. We need affordable health care. We need action,” he said. “We need a president who is going to keep his promises and quit using our county as a backdrop to make him feel good.”