Protesters gather outside of rally
Nearly 40 protesters held signs criticizing President Trump’s position on immigration, health care and the environment. Traveling from throughout the state to picket the rally Monday, several protesters engaged in verbal disputes, which broke out from buses and between walkers.
Signs read: Hope, not fear, love not hate; the earth is dying and y’all still lying; American idiot; We are better than Trump; and more.
There were no physical altercations, law enforcement said. Apart from sporadic shouting, both sides remained peaceful.
Each picketer had their own story to share and reasons for confronting the endless crowds supporting President Trump.
Dawning a bright red dress and bonnet, as well as sign which wrote “new century, same crap,” Leanne Keefer-Bechdel, of Mifflinburg, said she attempted to show the position the Trump campaign is trying to force onto women. Her gown earned her a death-threat from a man who said he was going to burn her.
Several years ago, Keffer-Bechdel said she discovered she was pregnant with a non-viable baby and was in need of an abortion. In Pennsylvania, she had to wait six days for the procedure.
“That’s a concern for me because of the current state of things now –that necessary medical procedure would not have been offered to me,” she said.
Additionally, Keefer-Bechdel was concerned about the “dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
In Keefer-Bechdel’s New Jersey hometown, she said her parents well was contaminated in 1978, it wasn’t until 2013 her family was able to draw potable water from the well.
“Water has always been essential,” she said.
Bari Snyder, of Shamokin, said her activism started because of the silence coming from Columbia County.
“I can’t keep quiet,” she said.
As a Polish second generation descendant, Snyder said she started a group to travel to places to protest President Trump’s anti-immigration policies. She held a sign that said “build bridges, not walls.”
“All this divisiveness is terrible,” she said. “I came out because I know a lot of people are campaigning.”
Coming from Columbia, George Diaz, who now lives in Mountaintop, has been a legal United States citizen since 1973. He said he is a direct beneficiary of United States’ rights.
“I’m concerned about the future of the country,” he said. “There should be equal rights for everybody.”
Diaz said he finds it repulsive that the president treats immigrants poorly.
“History tells us that we’re all immigrants,” he said.
Health care was where Evan Sander, of Williamsport, said he drew the line.
“It’s a basic human right and Trump could make things worse,” he said.
Sander said he wanted to reach out to Trump supporters.
“Let’s sit down and have a reasonable conversation, we can always find a middle ground,” he said.
Haley Sazabo, of South Williamsport, also wanted to sway Trump supporters.
“I just want to get into the minds of anybody who is not entirely sure how they feel. You can look into the eyes of people who walk past who aren’t entirely sure about want they believe and they still have room for growth.”
Sazabo said she hopes Trump supporters are looking and thinking about what they say.
“There’s so many points to make, it’s not just about racism and homophobia,” she said.
Climate change is especially poignant in her mind. According to reports, she said people only have 10 to 15 years to make a change to help the environment, rather than the 50 to 75 years that many scientists were saying.
“It scares me to think that we might all perish in this lifetime together,” she said.
Regardless of people’s beliefs, Jason Bentley, deputy chief of Montoursville police, said the event ran smoothly.
“They’ve been really respectful and no problems,” he said. “Much better than I thought.”