Several hundred “Not My President’s Day” protesters marched in Atlanta on Monday, arguing Donald Trump is unfit for the White House.
The rally was one of a number taking place in across the country Monday to coincide with Presidents’s Day.
About 400 demonstrators in Atlanta marched peacefully from Arts Center in Midtown to Lenox Mall carrying signs and chanting
For Tristan Merediz, 72, it was his first protest.
“I come from South America,” said Merediz, who has lived in the U.S. for 60 years. “Trump reminds me of a dictator. The way he attacks the press, the way he attacks the people. Look at (Hugo) Chavez in Venezuela or (Evo) Morales in Bolivia. They’re all the same.”
Merediz said he never thought he’d see such a leader assume the presidency but warned a dictatorship could be established here “if Congress doesn’t stand up to him. We’re heading that way.”
Trump won Georgia in November and a number of his supporters are standing behind him. They like his push to crack down in illegal immigration and his choice of a staunch conservative for the U.S. Supreme Court.
But Trump has also inspired passionate opposition. Monday’s rally is the latest of several demonstrations against Trump, the largest being women’s marches which drew hundreds of thousands out in January. Atlanta’s rally drew some 60,000 people.
Monday’s event was not nearly that large. But it drew folks like William and Anna Hamrick, also first-time protesters. The couple drove down from Gainesville, where many of their Hispanic friends are living in fear of the new administration’s crackdown on undocumented workers.
“Someone knocks on the door now and they’re afraid to answer,” said Anna Hamrick, 48. “These are working people, not criminals.”
William Hamrick, 56, said he’s never been that political but Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office “energized me.”
“He’s really pursuing all those crazy ideas he campaigned on,” William Hamrick said. “The path he’s taken … it’s crazy.
There have been consequences to his newfound activism.
“I’ve lost almost all my friends,” William Hamrick said. “My friends are rednecks and they love Trump.”
Carrying a sign reading “We’re All in This Together,” Cameron Hawkins, 39, of Atlanta, said he felt “obligated” to attend Monday’s protest, sponsored by Democracy Spring Georgia.
“There was the initial shock (after Trump’s election),” he said. “That turned into depression and now it’s frustration and anger.”
But Hawkins said he didn’t want to further the divide that exists in the country. Trump voters, he said, don’t feel as if they’re being represented, a complaint that spans ideologies and party affiliations.
“We’ve got to get past this divisive rhetoric,” Hawkins said. “It’s scary. We’ve all been living in a bubble. We really underestimated how fast things can deteriorate.”
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