President Trump flew to Tampa, Florida for a fundraising event last Friday afternoon with hundreds of supporters greeting him along his motorcade route to The Pelican Club in the Belleair neighborhood of Pinellas County. Attendees paid up to $100,000 for a photo op with the President. While the president is working to meet his campaign’s July fundraising goals, the day also marked the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits, causing the president to reevaluate his stance on not extending the program. About 30 anti-racist protesters with megaphones gathered by a police blockade at an intersection near the fundraiser to protest Trump’s arrival in Belleair.
The president met with 15 Florida sheriffs upon landing, and earlier in the day received an endorsement from Florida Police Benevolent Association, the state’s largest police union. His arrival coincided with the first day that many schools in the state reopened despite spikes in coronavirus cases and deaths in the state. Although Trump has opposed delaying the start of the school year, he recently tweeted a suggestion to delay the general election amid controversial claims that Vote By Mail will favor Democrats or increase voter fraud. This statement was taken by some to be a distraction, but others such as Steven Calabresi of the conservative Federalist Society have now called for Trump to be re-impeached. Only congress can make a decision to change election dates, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time.”
Trump has also been receiving criticism for sending federal law enforcement to Portland, Oregon where many protesters have been injured and arrested by the response to demonstrations. Groups including the Wall of Vets and Wall of Moms offered defense and support to Portland protesters, and iterations of the groups began to organize in Tampa over the last several weeks. Concerns over the rapid emergence of these groups contributed to some activists avoiding the scene altogether, while others engaged in separate demonstrations throughout the bay area.
Black Lives Matter protesters greeted the Trump motorcade around 4:30pm on Friday with a large banner reading “Florida is dying from COVID and Trump is fundraising? Get out of Tampa!” Indigenous activist Stuart Flores said that Trump also wasn’t welcome at his July 4 weekend appearance at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
“We are First Nations people. These are lands were protected by what? Treaties? Our treaties mean nothing to them”
More than a dozen indigenous activists were arrested while blocking a highway that day. Last month. Flores was arrested in Tampa after getting struck by a car at a protest and his brother Sheridan Murphy bailed him out. He questions if America has ever been great.
“…and until America deals with its Original Sins of slavery and the theft of native land, can it ever be great?”
Local residents living on the corner of the protest said they support Trump.
“My nephew is in law enforcement, that’s our heart. Our heart is with good old America.”
The Black Collective Movement had planned a larger protest around Trump’s fundraiser. But the President released his itinerary for the Florida trip at the last minute, prompting more than 100 activists to protest for police reform outside Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s house instead. Castor has been receiving criticism for the Tampa Police Department’s response to recent protests, as many activists have called for her to fire Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan. Castor has gone on record saying she would not fire Dugan.