About 500 people attended a rally in Lawrenceville Thursday to protest presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to the National Guard Armory.
Protesters chanted slogans on and off for a few hours, including chants like “Dump Christie, dump Trump”, “Hate won’t make us great,” and “Choose love, not hate.”
The protests were mostly peaceful. A few Trump supporters tried to antagonize the protesters, including one who ran past the group with a large Trump flag yelling obscenities. But others chatted with the protesters and calmly debated political issues.
Protesters were allowed to gather in a park across the street from the armory on Eggert Crossing Road, and had to park in the lot there or find side streets to park on. Rider University and the Lawrence Intermediate School roads were blockaded to keep protesters out.
A few vendors milled around the armory area hawking pro-Trump and anti-Hillary shirts, masks, hats and buttons. Others sold pretzels and bottled water.
Trump’s visit to the Garden State Thursday marked his first appearance at a New Jersey event this campaign season. He appeared alongside Gov. Chris Christie to help the governor raise funds to erase his presidential campaign debt. Tickets to the event started at $200.
The protest was organized by Martha Friend, a teacher in the Princeton Public Schools. Friend was protesting on her own time after school as a citizen. One Trump supporter at the rally said he was going to get her fired for organizing the protest.
Several representatives from area labor unions attended the protest and criticized Trump for opposing a minimum wage hike and saying wages are already too high.
“The middle class is being squeezed and an unhealthy and unsustainable gap between the rich and the rest of us continues to grow. And Trump and Christie are pushing ‘solutions’ that would only make things worse,” said President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
“They are wrong in not wanting to raise the minimum wage to anything approaching $15 an hour,” Appelbaum said. “They would rather keep millions of people earning poverty wages than mandate a fair, livable wage. They are wrong in opposing paid sick leave for most workers. Workers desperately need paid sick leave so they don’t have to choose between losing a day’s pay when they or a loved one are sick. And Trump and Christie are wrong in attacking labor unions.”