The Orange County Republican Party hosted a 'Trump Train' Saturday to show support for President Donald Trump and other North Carolina Republicans on the ballot this November. The caravan began in Hillsborough and made its way to Mebane, before looping back to the organization’s headquarters in Hillsborough.
This was the first such event hosted by the organization, but at least the second in North Carolina in recent days. Last week, a similar pro-Trump caravan drove through Elon, with participants hurling insults and white supremacist slogans at a lone counterprotester.
"We just had several people express interest [in having this event]," said Orange County Republican Party Vice Chairman John Gaither. "We're … a group of citizens that want to gather and just show their love and appreciation for the president."
Around 50 people in three dozen cars joined the Hillsborough caravan. Before it started, participants decorated their cars with Trump and American flags. The majority of people did not wear masks or social distance.
Participants said some of the most important issues for them are respecting law enforcement and reviving the economy. They agreed with Trump and the majority Republican Senate on appointing a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice before the election.
Tammy Leposa, a nurse, said she doesn’t feel like Democrats have handled the COVID-19 pandemic well, and she doesn’t believe they would handle the situation any better with a Democratic president.
"I feel like they're just really pushing it with our rights," Leposa said. "I believe we should be wearing masks, but I believe they're taking advantage of some these issues."
In downtown Hillsborough, about 25 people protested against the caravan. People shouted 'Vote Him Out' and the name of Breonna Taylor from sidewalks as the pro-Trump supporters drove by.
Chants of “VOTE HIM OUT” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” as the *Trump Train* rolls through Hillsborough. pic.twitter.com/f9s1ezY6OO
— Mitchell Northam (@primetimeMitch) September 26, 2020
Robin-Davis Ellison held a 'Black Lives Matter' flag. She said she was there to protest the injustices of the world.
"Our small beautiful town… is just being tainted by white supremacy," Ellison said. "The racism is horrible. We want equal rights. It's time to vote Trump out."
Ellison said she believes Trump and his supporters exacerbate racism. Across the street, protester Jared Hendrix agreed.
"Even if [Trump supporters] are not mean to me directly, supporting something that is systematically oppressive to anybody … doesn't allow being a good person," Hendrix said.
Ellison, Hendrix and others said some of the most important issues for them were police reform, healthcare, and social and racial equality.