By Elizabeth Coss and Gunnhildur Baldursdottir
Thousands filled the streets as former President Donald J. Trump rallied behind JD Vance’s Ohio Senate-race campaign Sept. 17 at the Covelli Center.
Alongside Vance and Trump were other speakers like U.S Representatives Bill Johnson (R – Ohio), Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R – Georgia).
Trump supporters, protestors and various vendors lined the shop-fronts and filled several roads including Market Street, Front Street, Champion Street and Walnut Street.
Bryan Bates, who follows Trump’s rallies to sell merchandise, said there are benefits for him as a vendor.
“I first got on the circuit in 2016 and I couldn’t believe how crazy [rallies are]. Every rally has 10 to 15,000 people,” Bates said. “It pays the bills and then some.”
Bates wasn’t the only vendor at the rally, some businesses had tables set up with apparel and flags, but other businesses had to cancel their plans for the rally.
Daniel Rauschenbach, owner of the Soap Gallery, said there are pros and cons to holding these kinds of events.
“Everyone has the right to experience their politics, but privately as a business it causes a disturbance when certain things aren’t well planned out,” Raushenbach said.
Raushenbach said he was dismayed with how many people were presenting and acting in the crowd.
“I’m an owner of an art gallery in a depressed city, so I support 100% what others have the right to view. We do have a white supremacist group set up in front of our gallery right now,” Raushenbach said. “[There are] shirts that say things like, ‘gay pride sucks,’ and other things, so it’s very discriminating, very sad and it’s very heartbreaking.”
For many in the crowd, excitement loomed at the opportunity to see the former president.
Kenneth Miller, a resident of Powell, Ohio, said he came to Youngstown to see the sights and sounds, as well as the former president.
“It’s very secure and very safe, these are all patriotic, real Americans,” Miller said. “I would hope to meet [Trump]. I would be honored to meet him, it would be incredible.”
Over on Market Street in front of the Mahoning County Federal Courthouse, a counter rally in opposition to Trump’s visit was set up.
Warner Lange, a former part-time faculty member in the sociology department at Youngstown State University, attended the protest and said the “Make America Great Again” movement stands for something dangerous.
“We have to stop the MAGA movement because if it succeeds we will have facsism in America,” Lange said. “We have a saying on top of the board there that says, ‘A nation cannot outlive justice where law and tyranny begins.’ This former president is totally lawless.”
Trump will next hold a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, Sept. 23 to support U.S. Senate Candidate Ted Budd (R).