Philly Trump supporters will rally against those calling for impeachment

“Hopefully we can change people’s minds.”

Trump supporters at the the president's inauguration.

Trump supporters at the the president's inauguration.

Jason Minto/The News Journal via USA TODAY NETWORK

The Trump Impeachment March planned for Sunday morning at Independence Mall can expect company. Local Trump supporters are planning a counter protest that will begin nearby at Front and Chestnut, at the same time.

Sports, Beer and Politics, a blog and social media community, is coordinating the pro-Trump event. SBP cofounder and Port Richmond resident Zach Rehl said he wants the president to know that they’ve got his back.

“There’s just been so many negative protests out there, we just want to let the president and other people in the city know that he does have people behind them,” said Rehl. “We’re not violent people, we just want to let him know why we follow the president that we follow.”

Almost one in six Philadelphia voters selected Trump as their candidate. As Billy Penn has reported, Philadelphia was a base of near-daily protests and organizing events after the election, with activists’ efforts resuming in intensity recently due to the Senate healthcare bill. But these events have overwhelmingly been part of the anti-Trump #resistance. Rehl was motivated to throw a rally to try balance that some.

The Impeachment March is a national event, with demonstrations slated for dozens of cities. More than 1,000 people have expressed interest in the Facebook event for Philly’s Impeachment March, but only a few hundred confirmed attendance.

So far, just a couple hundred people have expressed interested in Rehl’s  event on Facebook, and barely 50 have confirmed. But Rehl said he expects more.

He said that being a Trump fan in a city filled with blue voters can be “intimidating.” The Temple grad student said he doesn’t show off his appreciation for the president around his peers “to stay safe.”

“I just walk around campus, and I really want to wear my MAGA hat, but there’s a lot of people who are really passionate about their dislike for Trump,” he said. “I don’t try to flaunt who I voted for around here. Especially if I’m by myself.”

Rehl voted for Trump because of his promises to restore manufacturing jobs. He grew up in Kensington, and his mother and aunts worked in textile factories when we he was younger. He said he believes the shrinking number of manufacturing jobs had devastating impacts on working class and minority communities. He despises NAFTA and was attracted to Trump’s ideas on trade.

Some of the memes SBP posts are playful; others appear to disapprove of feminists, LGBTQ people and Muslims.

Rehl insists that the group is not homophobic. Trump backs LGBTQ rights, he said, adding “that’s something that I hope the gay community can see and turn around a little bit.” Trump famously held the LGBTQ pride flag days at a rally days before he was elected and has voiced support for the queer community; the White House has not recognized Pride Month, however.

Organizers of Sunday’s march are planning for speeches on supporting police, current events and constitutional rights, among other topics.

“I’m not worried about the Impeachment March, they’re not looking for problems, we’re not looking for problems,” Rehl said. There is a counter-counter protest against Sports Beer & Politics’ march, being planned by Disrupt MAGA Philly. That event’s description characterizes SPB’s demonstration as a Nazi rally.

The label might not be accurate for the SBP event organizers, but white supremacist Twitter user @Illegal_Aryan is promoting the event on his account —the very account that made news in April after taking credit for fliering Penn’s campus with neo-Nazi posters.

Rehl said their plan to is just to stay peaceful. “I have confidence that Philadelphia Police will stop anything bad from happening… We’re going to have a police detail with us, and we’re going to follow their orders,” he said. “We’re not going to do anything crazy, not starting a war in the middle of Market Street. We’re not violent. Hopefully we can change people’s minds.”

March for Donald Trump, Sunday, July 2 at 10 am. Front & Chestnut.

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