WILDWOOD — When President Donald Trump appears at the Wildwoods Convention Center on Jan. 28 for a “Keep American Great” rally, he will be greeted by both supporters but also by protesters.
A protest is planned for outside the convention center, organized by Cape May County Indivisible, a progressive grassroots group.
The protest is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., when doors open for the event. The rally itself is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and last until 9 p.m.
In a statement, Shayla Woolfort, co-chair of CMC Indivisible, noted the reason for the protest rally.
“When hate comes to our backyard, we have a moral obligation to take action and not look away. We stand in solidarity with the historically marginalized communities that this administration is hurting. Thousands of kids in cages didn’t have the privilege of turning the other cheek,” Woolfort said. “We stand in peaceful protest to reject the racism, bigotry, violence and corruption of the Trump administration.”
Officials are expecting heavy traffic on local roads, while Wildwood’s public schools have closed the day of the rally.
Tickets for Trump’s rally are available free online at donaldtrump.com, on a first-come, first-served basis.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican and who pledged his “undying support” to Trump in December, told Fox News on Jan. 19 that about 100,000 tickets for Trump’s rally have been requested.
“It’s been exciting and I’m proud to say for his event — of all the events he’s done in all the country — we’ve had the most ticket requests,” Van Drew said.
Those attendees will likely encounter protesters from more than two dozen organizations.
Groups joining the protest with Indivisible include New Jersey Working Families; ATNJ; NJ 11th for Change; Cooper River Indivisible; CD-2 Progressive Democrats; NJ7 Forward; South Jersey Women for Progressive Change; Collingswood Democratic Committee; South Jersey Progressive Democrats, STAND Central; United Progressive Democrats; NJ-08 for Progress; Hudson County Progressive Alliance; Our Revolution NJ; South Orange Maplewood Action; Indivisible Cranbury; District 4 Coalition for Change; and People for Progress.
“The goal is to act as a unified grassroots force,” said Cassandra Gatelein, co-chair of CMC Indivisible. “Not everyone is going to like us protesting Trump’s visit, and that’s OK. But protest is patriotic — and it’s supposed to make people feel uncomfortable because it’s bringing attention to what needs to be changed. We’re focused on celebrating our diversity — which is what makes us truly great — and building grassroots power to make this country better for all of us.”
Speakers for the protest include Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett, Will Cunningham and Amy Kennedy, who are all Democratic candidates for the 2nd Congressional District.
Marie Blistan, president of the New Jersey Education Association, will also speak.
Cunningham called Trump’s rally “misguided” and said it will cost taxpayers in Cape May County and Wildwood anywhere from $80,000 to $175,000.
“I think it’s wasteful and not surprising given this administration’s lack of concern for real people. I think it’s another black eye from Jeff Van Drew to this community and the betrayal he has foisted upon this community,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2018, when he referred to Van Drew as a “fake Democrat.”
“I think he just proved me correct and I’m back in this race to put a true Democrat in this seat that represents South Jersey and our values and to fight for this community,” Cunningham said, adding he has experience working on Capitol Hill as a chief investigator on the House Oversight Committee. “When you talk about results, I have national results. I’ve helped communities. I don’t think Jeff Van Drew can say the same and bringing Donald Trump is problematic for those reasons and more.”