Disrupting ‘creeping fascism’: Protesters crash Donald Trump’s ritzy Pennsylvania Society luncheon

People wait outside the Plaza Hotel for a Trump entry that never happened.

People wait outside the Plaza Hotel for a Trump entry that never happened.


NEW YORK — Donald Trump got about 20 minutes into his speech during a fundraiser for Keystone State Republicans in town for the Pennsylvania Society before an unexpected interruption.

Four people who had tickets to the luncheon and were seated at tables got up and started reciting the famous quote from Martin Niemoller — recently featured on the front page of the New York Daily News — that ends with the sentence “Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

As they recited the poem, another group of about six other people stormed in. They had a black banner that read “Islamophobia” among other things and shouted, “Trump is trying to bring us down.”

Jordan Wouk and Jennifer Hirsch were among the four who attended the luncheon, which was at the Plaza Hotel, and recited the poem. They are members of the group Jews For Racial and Economic Justice and view Trump’s recent comments about an immigration ban of Muslims as reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany.

“I’m very upset at what I see is creeping fascism,” Wouk said.

A Trump protester is escorted out of the Plaza Hotel.

A Trump protester is escorted out of the Plaza Hotel.

Mark Dent/Billy Penn

Trump’s speech itself, according to Wouk, featured a lot of details about polls and Hillary Clinton. He said Trump also brought up the prominence of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and noted that the resource was going to be sucked out of New York and into Pennsylvania.

People started arriving for the 11:30 a.m. luncheon at least an hour early. Among those spotted entering the Plaza Hotel were former governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason and New York GOP chairman Ed Cox.

Trump entered the Plaza Hotel secretly. In anticipation of his arrival, around noon, more than a hundred people had surrounded the main entrance. Some of them were protesters. Most were onlookers who heard at the last minute Trump was going be there and decided to wait and catch a glimpse. As it neared closer to 1 and the event was scheduled to end, dozens were still there. A security guard for the hotel even conceded he wasn’t where Trump was supposed to enter.

Media was not allowed on third level of the Plaza’s ballroom. The staircase and elevators were guarded by Republicans, including members of the state party’s communications team Megan Sweeney and Stan Olshefski.

I made it up to the third floor about 45 minutes before the luncheon began. The ballroom was guarded on the third level as well, and there were two metal detectors.

Wouk, Hirsch and the others were removed by security after interrupting Trump’s speech, as were the protesters who stormed in. They felt they got their point across.

“Let’s call it what it is,” Hirsch said. “Let’s stop it.”

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