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Jordan Gunselman

How Philly’s planning to greet President Trump

While the GOP retreat waits on Trump to join them, protesters gear up to make themselves heard.

Trump_protest_January_2017
Jordan Gunselman
Paige Gross Headshot

President Donald Trump’s live speech at the Department of Homeland Security Wednesday afternoon could be seen across the street and through the windows of Loews Philadelphia Hotel. There, a handful of protesters stood with signs, none too happy about the GOP’s visit to the city.

Melissa Amilani of South Philly planted herself on the corner of 12th and Market streets around 2 p.m., and said her message — a sign reading “not my president” in rainbow letters — couldn’t be any clearer.

She wanted to protest tomorrow, but has to work at her job as a tour guide.

“This makes me feel like I’m doing something patriotic,” she said, “You know? We live in this city where the country was basically built, and this is how I feel. Dissent and protesting are very patriotic.”

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Melissa Amilani of South Philly shows off the opposite side of her "not my president" sign.

Jordan Gunselman

Amilani’s roommate, Hillary Klapholz, said she too feels protesting the GOP’s meeting is an empowering way to get people to talk about the current administration.

“In our neighborhood, it’s a little more reserved. Not everybody thinks like we do,” she said. “So it’s empowering to be here and know what these people want is what I want.”

The hotel’s block is closed off with barriers and a heavy police presence, meaning protesters and passersby will have to keep their distance until they leave on Friday. Phrases have been scrawled on the blocks surrounding the hotel, though, ensuring Trump doesn’t miss how Philadelphians are feeling.

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Across from the hotel on Market Street near 12th , "Resist!" is written in sidewalk chalk.

Jordan Gunselman

Across the street the sidewalk read, in chalk, “Resist!” and “climate change denial is a lie!” A block away on the exterior of a 7-Eleven at 12th and Chestnut, spray paint read “America was never great.” And the eighth floor windows of the Stephen Girard Building next to the hotel — which is home to the Tenant Unions Representative Network, the Attorney General’s office and the Mazzoni Center — hosted the message “black lives matter.”

Terry Brennan of South Philly joined the protest across the street from the Lowes as another way to get lawmakers to hear him. He started a Facebook group after the election that provides scripts and talking points for people who want call their congressperson, notably Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. 

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Terry Brennan of South Philly (right) has been calling Sen. Pat Toomey's office every day for the last few weeks to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

Jordan Gunselman

“It’s just a way for us to keep pressure on them,” he said. “I’ve been calling about the Affordable Care Act, mostly, every day for the last two or three weeks and I’m going to call every day of his term.”

When Trump joins the GOP members and begins the retreat Thursday he’ll likely be met with a much larger crowd of protesters, following a “Queer Rager” dance party Wednesday night and a 4 p.m. protest organized by Philly Socialists at the hotel on Thursday.