The Bronx Cheers—Mostly—for Trump | The New Yorker

At former President Donald Trump’s rally in Crotona Park, in the Bronx, earlier this week—his first rally in the city in eight years—his fans seemed to have a wonderful time. So many flags! Some supporters were so bedecked in them, they almost trailed on the ground. And such dreadful T-shirts referring to President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris—what a thrill to wear them in public for all to see! Two hours before the event, the line waiting to get into the speaking venue in the southeast corner of the park stretched far down Crotona Park East; it didn’t move for more than an hour. The hats waited, chatting, laughing, sometimes shouting, while venders working the line yelled, “Don’t be a Democrat—get you a Trump hat!”

Under the hats were people of many kinds: blond Trump fans, more than a few huge white guys (“Hey, bro—you got that T-shirt in XXL?”), and many red-hatted Black and brown Trump supporters. Wearing less Trump regalia were Asian men in jackets and ties, a few women in hijabs, and scores of Hasidic men in white shirts, black trousers, and black yarmulkes. A beetle-browed guy in a pullover said to two young Hasidim, “You guys gotta tell the Hasidim to get together!” They listened, nodding.

Pollen blew through the balmy air, the sun declined through the trees. Six o’clock, the hour when Trump was supposed to speak, approached. At the park’s edges, cops hooked their thumbs in the armholes of their fluorescent vests and stood back on their heels. A helicopter made its thwapping noise as it held, unmoving, at eagle altitude overhead. The line began to move. The speaking venue quickly filled up and overflowed, spilling into a large area of grass and rock outcroppings. A group appeared near the overflow area carrying a banner that called both Trump and Biden fascists. Behind it, a speaker with a bullhorn shouted, “ ‘Make America Great Again’? When was America ever great?” On one of the knolls, another group chanted “Fuck. Trump! Fuck. Biden! They. Don’t. Care-about-you!” A red hat shouted at them: “My father fought for this country! My father’s corpse is screaming at you from the grave!”

A paved lane divided the pro-Trump overflow from a knot of anti-Trump, anti-Biden, pro-Palestinian protesters. Standing on the lane, a man named Milton Perez asked another man if he was for Trump. The man replied that he was a reporter. Perez said that he was nonpolitical, but found it insulting that Trump had come here. “I was born in the Bronx, but I live in Brooklyn and I’m an advocate for the homeless. I was invited to the State of the Union address, and when I looked out at the Republicans all sitting together they were ninety-five per cent white men in suits. Across the aisle, the Democrats looked more diverse. They looked like they might at least listen to you.” Dinick Martinez, his friend, pointed at the pro-Palestinian group and said, “I feel sorry for the trans kids on that side. They don’t know that Hamas would kill them, too. I’m unrestricted, myself, and honestly I feel more comfortable with them,” gesturing to the bigger crowd on the Trump side of the lane.

Ever since the line started forming, a woman with a sign that said “Warning: Trump Hates You” and (on the other side) “Warning: Trump Is a Nazi,” accented with a red swastika, had stood among the Trump fans and tried to tell them why she thinks Trump is corrupt. She had medium-length brown hair and wore glasses and a dress decorated with pink and black flowers. Trump fans yelled at her and sometimes shook their fingers in her face. One kept shouting, “Arrest her! Arrest her!” She smiled pleasantly and listened, offering counter-arguments. After Trump had been speaking (mostly inaudibly, at this distance) for an hour, she left the overflow area, putting her sign, in pieces, into a large plastic bag. The reporter approached her and said, “Your sign broke.”

“Somebody punched it,” she said. “There were some not-nice people today. But some people were nice, and willing to talk. I’ve been doing this at Trump rallies since 2016, ever since he came down the escalator. I don’t know how many people I’ve persuaded—today, probably nobody. What surprises me is how many people say they would never vote for Biden because he is a pedophile. A good fifty per cent of the Trump supporters I’ve talked to say that. I think that as a country we have become unable to tell good from evil.”

She continued, “I do feel bad about the ‘Trump Is a Nazi’ sign, and the swastika. I thought I needed a strong statement to get people’s attention, but some Jewish Trump supporters today told me that I don’t know anything about the Nazis or the Holocaust. Looking back, I felt it was wrong when I was drawing the swastika. Next time, I’ll tone it down.” ♦


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