By Nick Earnshaw
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Demonstrators made their presence known on Saturday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other notable Democrats came to Camden County College to support U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross.
Republicans and Trump supporters began gathering on the Blackwood campus around 10:45 a.m. with the first cars displaying Trump flags showing up. The counterrally had gained traction on social media, especially on Facebook.
The event was refrained from being called a protest and the executive director of the Camden County Republican Committee, Tom Crone, explained why. “It’s a rally in support of our great economy, our great president and our great country.”
The group of approximately 200 demonstrators showed overwhelming support for Trump outside of the Democratic rally in the Papiano Gymnasium, holding up many Trump flags and signs.
Marie Hanley of Sewell said she attended the counterrally “to support our president, which everybody should be doing. We all need to support Trump. He’s done the best for this country of any president I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
At one point, a small plane carrying a banner reading “S. Jersey is Trump Country” flew over the campus, exciting the crowd below.
The crowd also criticized Pelosi. Ray Polidoro of Gloucester Township said of the speaker’s job performance, “Well, she really didn’t do her job. She was tied up doing impeachment and basically got nothing done.”
The counterrally was generally peaceful with some shouting, yelling and singing. However, some confrontations occurred as people either left the line for the Norcross rally and yelled from across the street and, in one case, a Trump supporter got near the Democrat line and an argument broke out.
Norcross downplayed the protest, saying, “I didn’t know there was a protest going on outside. I saw a bunch of Americans outside.”
Some Democrats in line for the Norcross rally expressed thoughts about the counterrally. Susan Kimmins of Audubon said, “I have tried to wrap my brain around their following this man (Trump) for several years now and no matter what aspect or angle I look at it from, I still don’t get it.”
While the Republicans had the larger counter rally outside the Norcross event, about 10 Green Party supporters rallied nearby.
Madelyn Hoffman, who is running for the U.S. Senate as a member of the Green Party against Sen. Cory Booker, said, “I’m running against Sen. Cory Booker, who is inside, and he’s supporting this fundraiser for Norcross at $2,800 a plate and we’re out here and have pizza for $2.80 a slice.”