Nearly 2,000 protesters attend anti-Trump rally

Roughly 1,700 people packed three blocks of sidewalks in downtown Utica to show their opposition to President Donald Trump and Congresswoman Claudia Tenney on Monday.

Posted: Aug. 13, 2018 10:13 PM
Updated: Aug. 14, 2018 11:40 AM

UTICA, NY-- Roughly 1,700 people packed three blocks of sidewalks in downtown Utica to show their opposition to President Donald Trump and Congresswoman Claudia Tenney on Monday.

The president was visiting the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Utica, hosting a fundraiser event for Tenney, who is seeking re-election to the 22nd Congressional District Seat.

The local group Indivisible Mohawk Valley and partner organizations protested outside of the State Office Building holding signs with messages that knocked President Trump's policies, such as health care, immigration reform and women's reproductive rights, among others.

"There's a lot of solidarity here and the energy is amazing," said Sarah Reeske, co-leader of Indivisible Mohawk Valley. "There's a lot of people here getting off the couch, stop yelling at the TV and are here on the sidewalk, peacefully, law-abiding non-violently protesting and everybody here feels that the Trump agenda hurts Central New York families."

Everyone had their own reason for participating in the Resist Trump and Tenney Protest.

Katlyn Baughnan, a Utica resident, dressed in garb resembling a handmaid from "The Handmaid's Tale." The 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood and hit series on Hulu, revolves around a society in which women are stripped of their reproductive autonomy.

"Women are essentially just wombs and I feel like that's what Trump and Tenney are aiming towards," Baughnan said. "They have really poor health care policies, both pro-life which I defined as forced birth."

Another protester, Dylan Bennett, of Utica, said he served in the military and is transgender. He spoke about his concerns with the Trump administration.

"I'm a transgender individual I came out after I got out of the military, but I was in the military and it really means a lot to a lot of trans people to be able to serve," he said.

According to NBC News, President Donald Trump announced on March 23 that he would endorse a plan by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to restrict the military service of transgender people who experience a condition called gender dysphoria. The policy replaced an outright ban on transgender service members that Trump announced last year on Twitter, citing concern over military focus and medical costs.

Last week a U.S. court ruled the Trump administration could not enforce the policy barring certain transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

Janine Schiavi, of New Hartford, brought her two sons with her to protest.

"My children are here and as a mother it's really difficult to raise young boys with a great role model of a president under President Trump," she said. "It's a constant battle to explain his poor behavior and his immoral actions and we prefer to have a president,  who we can be proud of."

Zahar Omar, of Utica, is a refugee from Kenya, who came this area in 2010. She said she doesn't like President Trump or his policies.

"Because he doesn't like refugees," she said. "And America is peace, united freedom for everyone."

In April immigrant families were separated because the Trump administration began to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible. In June the president signed a executive order reversing his policy of separating families — and replacing it with a policy of detaining entire families together, including children, but ignoring legal time limits on the detention of minors, according to NPR News.

One protester took his message a step further, by dressing up like President Trump, resembling a giant baby.

"Both Tenney and Trump I don't believe really represent the people," said John Bailey, of Hamilton. "Claudia she doesn't really represent her constituents, she doesn't listen. I know so many people have gone to her office and tried to talk to her and she doesn't  listen and she won't have a town hall, I mean I went to her one pseudo town hall and I just think that's deplorable."

Reeske added that she hopes the hundreds of protesters that came to share their opinions send a message to others.

"Claudia Tenney does not have a easy road to re-election, all these people here are going to be voting and they're going be talking to friends and family about voting and how important it is to vote, " she said. "We have the power to shift the way things are or are not happy we need to get involved and go for it."

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