Protesters rip Trump event at Gilbert-owned building

James David Dickson, The Detroit News

Detroit — In a protest that inspired a police presence downtown, the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman and about two dozen others rallied Monday at Campus Martius and Quicken Loans headquarters because of last week’s Donald Trump fundraiser at a Dan Gilbert-owned building.

Elena Herrada, a trustee of the Detroit Board of Education and a participant in the protest, wore a black jacket that said #ArrestSnyder in white letters on the back and carried a sign that read: “Quicken Loans supports Trump.”

Herrada said the Trump fundraiser happening on a Gilbert property was a “statement implicit in support of Trump.”

Although a Republican source confirmed Friday’s Trump fundraiser at the Chrysler House building, party officials would not comment on who hosted the gathering of donors that included Compuware co-founder Peter Karmanos, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.

Gilbert attended Trump’s Aug. 8 speech to the Detroit Economic Club at Cobo Center.

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, left, and son Cedar, 9 months, and Elena Herrada hold anti-Donald Trump/Dan Gilbert protest signs Monday at Campus Martius in Detroit.

The protest was about a half-hour old when it moved from Campus Martius to One Campus Martius, the old Compuware building and current headquarters of Gilbert-owned Quicken Loans.

As protesters spoke out against the Republican presidential candidate and passersby watched, security guards and the Detroit Police Department secured the building.

Talk of the protest moving inside was soon abandoned. A request from Herrada that Gilbert face the protesters was denied.

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” a security guard told Wylie-Kellerman.

“We’ve been doing it the hard way a long time,” the reverend replied.

But when Commander Elvin Barren of the Detroit Police Department requested that protesters move from near the front of the building to the sidewalk, protesters complied.

“Gotta keep moving. Can’t block ingress or egress,” said Sam Riddle, political director of the Detroit branch of the National Action Network, directing foot traffic.

What would be acceptable, Barren said, is if the protesters were walking in a circle rather than standing still.

They complied with that, too, for a time, then formed a semicircle, backs to the building.

“It’s not a crime to support Donald Trump,” said a passerby who would only identify herself as Amy B. “It’s not like he’s a drug dealer.”

Sensing an opportunity, a representative of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign came out. She did not speak publicly, but brought a clipboard in the hopes of signing up volunteers for the last month of the campaign.

The rally lasted a little more than an hour, and ended without incident.

The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, which Gilbert owns, hosted the Republican National Convention at which Trump was nominated. Protesters interviewed by The News, though, did not mention that; only the fundraiser at the Chrysler House in Detroit.

Though Gilbert was not in attendance at that fundraiser, he did support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Republican primary. He called Christie “Trump lite” in an interview with The News editorial page editor Nolan Finley.

“If you provide the home, if you set the table, you don’t have to sit down and eat,” Riddle said. “He’s wrong for enabling a racist like Trump.”

jdickson@detroitnews.com