Organizers of a rally to support the reelection of President Donald J. Trump filled an expansive parking lot in Hollister Oct. 31. There were an estimated 1,200 Trump supporters at the Oct. 31 rally held in front of the shuttered K-Mart building. While American and Support Trump flags waved from atop pickup trucks and cars spread across the parking lot, counter protesters carried Black Lives Matter, Mexico, and United Field Workers’ Union flags.
Interaction between the two groups was controlled and even cordial, but often punctuated by taunts between counter-protester marchers and motorists, laced with obscenities and the all too familiar finger gesture. The pro-Trump crowd was serenaded with patriotic rock music and chants of “four more years”. The counter-protesters marched and also chanted in accompaniment to music blaring from cars and motorcycles by rappers YG & Nippsey Hussel singing “F— Donald Trump.”
There were a number of speakers at the event, including J.W. Paine, chairman of the Republican Party of San Benito County; Vedana Freitas, a member of #OpenSBC; San Benito County Supervisor Peter Hernandez, Jeff Gorman, running against Congressman Jimmy Panetta for the California 20th Congressional District; Jared Coffeen, who has organized a Gavin Newsom recall campaign in the county; and Greg Swett, who is running for the California 30th Congressional District.
Hernandez said he was speaking as Latino who is amazed at being a staunch Republican, having grown up with five older brothers who are all Democrats.
“As a Latino, being a Republican, it was like oil and water,” he said. “I think when you love your country you have to challenge the narratives you’ve been indoctrinated with.”
Alma Phillips, a member of #OpenSBC, said she was born and raised in Mexico and came to the U.S. when she was 17. Now that she is a citizen, she said America is her country.
“If there’s no America, I don’t know where to go to find the American dream,” she said, adding that she took part in the Blaxit march in Washington. She said she was interviewed there “by the fake news,” and asked “how much did they pay you to come here?”
“I am from California and I am tired of seeing what the Left is doing to a beautiful state that is my home,” she said. “I’ll be damn if I’ll let that happen. I know what a bad government can do to a country because I fled from one that is run by cartels.”
Paine said he organized the event after being told numerous times that California did not matter when it came to the presidential race and that Republicans should only focus on local races. Before the more than 600 vehicles left the parking lot to parade through the city, he cautioned the supporters that if anyone along the route were to assault or threaten them to use their cell phones to document the incident and then call 9-1-1. As it turned out, the trip through town was noisy, but peaceful and uneventful.