Trump supporters and protesters gather downtown during former president’s Grand Rapids visit

Around 300 protestors and supporters gathered along Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street on April 2 to witness Former President Donald Trump drive into the DeVos Place Convention Center and voice their opinions on his policies and campaign. Many of those who stood during the cold rainy weather were those in favor of the Republican candidate. (Blace Carpenter/The Collegiate)

About 300 protestors and supporters gathered along Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street on April 2 to witness former President Donald Trump drive into the DeVos Place Convention Center and voice their opinions on his policies and campaign. The former president visited Grand Rapids after the death of local resident Ruby Garcia. Brandon Ortiz-Vite, an undocumented man from Mexico, confessed to her March 22 murder and turned himself into police.  

The Kent County GOP asked that people join them in their “President Trump Roadside Rally” and “welcome him to Grand Rapids.” Grassroots Chairperson for the Kent County GOP Keith Hull spoke about how supportive people are of Trump. 

“… I don’t believe that a lot of people that are supporting have a blind allegiance for him,” Hull said.  “I believe that they support his policies, they are willing to forgive past mistakes and they are willing to hold him accountable…You can’t have a blind allegiance for any political organizations or political figures.” 

Most of the people outside the convention center were Trump’s supporters, with many holding American and “Trump 2024” flags.  There were also two tables filled with pro-Trump merchandise for those looking to stock up. 

“I just want to be around the people here to try and bring awareness to the (former) president being in town and looking to support local groups of people,” said 29-year-old Kyle Nicholson, of Grand Rapids. When asked why he supports Trump, Nicholson explained he likes his, “policies, values and morals.” 

Trump’s message of impending doom, if he’s not reelected, was echoed outside DeVos Place on Tuesday. 

“I’m supporting the fact that Trump is in Grand Rapids today. I want him to know that there are people here that are with him. I am a supporter of unity,” said Brett Buckingham, 65, of Lowell. “I have concerns that if the Republican party doesn’t regain control of the country, that this will be our last election. I believe that the people in the White House don’t know how to run (the country).”

While the majority of those who stood out in the cold rain were in favor of Trump, protestors also came to the corner of Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street to voice their concerns about Trump and his often divisive rhetoric. Democrats at GRCC (Grand Rapids Community College) President Alex Toren explained that he was out on behalf of his team. 

“We are out today to show the Trump retribution campaign that that is not welcome in Grand Rapids and Kent County,” Toren said. “We are supporters of immigrants and we welcome everyone here… We are happy to support the president (Joe Biden) and his reelection campaign. He won Michigan in the primary by a really wide margin and he won Kent County in 2020 and Governor Whitmer won Kent County in 2022 and we expect a strong win in 2024 as well.”

Immigration policies were the main reason Trump visited Grand Rapids and many protestors of his pledge to close the border stood across the street from the Amway Grand, shouting chants such as “Immigrants are welcome here,” “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Trump has got to go,” “Immigrant rights are workers rights” and “Viva Viva Palestina.” 

Nokomis Schultz, 25, of Grand Rapids explained that she believes immigrants should be supported and doesn’t understand the hate they get from far-right supporters.   

“​​I’m here because I support our immigrants and I support everybody in this world and I just want to make sure that everybody has a loving place to be,” Schultz said. “And it makes me really sad to see all these people out here that are clearly just like coming from a place of hate and coming from a place of just like not understanding the struggle that a lot of people have to go through.” 

Collegiate reporters Aiden Lynam, Koy Flores and News Editor Alexa Cheaney contributed to this story. 


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