On Saturday January 21st protesters gathered in Port Jervis, NY to peacefully express their dissatisfaction with the 2016 election cycle and Trump's activities. Organized by Patty Baughman and her husband Reverend Aaron, the sister march wound its way through a mile of poverty stricken streets. Approximately 500 protesters of all ages and races marched sporting various signs depicting their displeasure with the current administration. While there was almost no chanting during the march, people were energetic. A few elderly members of the protest commented that "it felt nothing like the marches of the 60's." They seemed slightly disappointed. Throughout the crowd, protesters wore Planned Parenthood shirts, cat eared hats, and rainbow cloths in solidarity with the many groups that have been attacked by Trump and his supporters during his 2016 campaign. Protesters marched, and the people of Port Jervis responded. Locals came out of their houses to watch, shop owners and their patrons waved and Trump supporters allowed the protest to go along with minimal intrusion. A handful chanted at the protesters, but when they didn't get a response the chanting stopped. It was a well behaved crowd that respected local traffic and police officers who helped ensure their safety. Many of the protesters thanked police officers as they passed. It was a respectful march.
Seven miles away in Milford, PA, protesters gathered on Friday January 20th. The two towns could not be more different. Port Jervis is urban and home to almost 8.5 thousand people, Milford hovers around a thousand. Where Port Jervis has a higher poverty rate and a lack of its former industries, showcased by the remnants of factories and dying infrastructure, Milford is lavish in comparison with rural charm and a general upkeep that Port Jervis can only envy. Milford is the county seat of Pike County, where the courthouse and County government operate. The people of Milford generally look down on Port Jervis as a dirty place filled with drugs. Yet when protesters emerged in Milford, some locals responded with hate. Although the majority ignored the protest, some townsfolk chanted "Killary" and screamed things at protesters like "Traitor" and other derogatory statements. It seems that the one thing Port Jervis has that Milford doesn't is tolerance of others' ideals. For a community with such a large LGBTQ population and a rich history of conservation efforts, it is surprising to see so many respond to Trump's rhetoric when, at least on the surface, it appears to contradict the values of the community.
This is not a regional problem. Across the US there have been increasing reports of hate crimes coinciding roughly with the rise of Trump's campaign. Trump has emboldened ideologies and fringe groups, empowering them through appointments in his administration. Regardless of whether the Trump administration succeeds or fails, the hate his rhetoric inspired will outlast anything he hopes to achieve and will become his legacy.