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Hundreds gather outside for Trump visit to Clyde’s Whirlpool plant

Groups of people, some holding signs, gathered alongside U.S. 20 in Clyde Thursday. (Photo by Brandon Addeo)

CLYDE, Ohio — Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump drew quite a crowd Thursday for his visit to the Whirlpool factory.

Hundreds of people gathered along the side of the McPherson Highway (U.S. 20) in anticipation of the president’s arrival. Many passing vehicles honked their horns at the scores of onlookers.

The people

On the corner of U.S. 20 and Birdseye Avenue, just east of the Whirlpool plant, several dozen gathered for a rally.

The rally was put on by two groups — Justice for Migrant Women and People for Peace and Justice Sandusky County. The groups billed the event as a “nonpartisan, issue-focused” rally.

Despite the event being nonpartisan, attendees brought their own political ideologies with them — some came with Biden for president signs; others nearby held Trump/Pence ones.

Karen Reer, of Norwalk, said she’d been waiting outside the Whirlpool plant since 7 a.m. anticipating Trump’s arrival.

“I’d love to meet the president and shake his hand,” Reer said.

She thought it was a “good move” for the president to visit Clyde’s Whirlpool plant.

Others attending spoke out against POTUS. One of those was Judy Donnan, a Fremont resident who’s lived in Sandusky County for 40 years.

“(Trump’s) the divider-in-chief,” Donnan said.

Holding a sign reading “honk for peace,” she talked about what motivated her to come to Clyde for Trump’s arrival.

“I was feeling helpless,” Donnan said. “This makes me feel not so helpless.”

The rally

A number of people spoke to the crowd at the rally on topics like racism, families being separated, the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQIA rights, local agriculture and the divide in the nation.

“This country has been made to hate,” said Dr. Regina Vincent-Williams, president of Fremont’s NAACP chapter. “We need to learn to love again.”

Some in attendance held “Black Lives Matter” signs. Vincent-Williams talked about what that phrase means to her.

“It’s not just Black Lives Matter when it comes to the police. It comes to housing, it comes to education,” she said.

Reem Subei, a civil rights attorney and former Democratic Ohio Senate candidate, spoke about the need to protect renters facing evictions since Ohio’s moratorium on evictions during the pandemic ended in July.

“Governments can and should intervene,” Subei said. “It’s a nonpartisan issue.”

Monica Ramirez, of Fremont and the founder and president of Justice for Migrant Women, co-organized the rally. Ramirez said that the rarity of a presidential visit to Sandusky County — which hasn’t happened since the early 1900s — was one of the driving forces in hosting the event.

“Given that, and given the importance of our state generally, I think we wanted to make sure that our perspective on the issues that we care about was brought forward,” she said.

Ramirez, who comes from a migrant farmworker family and whose father retired from the Clyde Whirlpool plant, said she hopes both local community members and the president understand that the “lesser-heard” voices in the community are recognized. She also spoke about the need to work together.

“No matter what political affiliation someone has, I think we want to make sure people are fed and don’t go hungry, if people are safe,” Ramirez said. “When it comes to values we have much more in common than people realize.”

The arrival

Further west on U.S. 20, near Woodland Avenue, many Trump supporters gathered for the president’s arrival. A chant of “four more years” broke out at one point.

Before 2:30 p.m., five helicopters — one of them, carrying the president — flew over the road heading south.

It’s not known where they landed, but about 20 minutes later, Trump’s motorcade of about one dozen vehicles slowly made its way down the highway as onlookers cheered. The motorcade then turned south on Woodland Avenue in the direction of the Whirlpool plant.

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