Mich. protesters urge Trump to protect environment

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Ypsilanti Township — At least 300 demonstrators rallied outside the Willow Run Airport Wednesday, denouncing hate and calling on President Donald Trump to protect the environment.

“This is our protest, our voices!” shouted Michelle Deatrick, a member of Michigan to Believe In, one of the groups that organized the protest. “You are awesome!”

Deatrick is also a Democratic Washtenaw County commissioner who represents Northfield, Salem and Webster townships as well as most of Ann Arbor and Superior townships and parts of Ann Arbor and Dexter.

The group braved below-freezing temperatures and wind while Trump met with U.S. and foreign auto executives near the American Center for Mobility. The rally began just before 1 p.m. and lasted until about 2:30 p.m.

Protesters’ parked their cars along the shoulder of the entrance and exit ramps that connected Airport Drive to Wiard Road. Negotiating around the ramps grew trickier as more vehicles were parked.

Carrying signs with messages like “Save our health care,” “We can do it! Impeach Trump!” and “Trump Lies!” demonstrators walked back and forth along the road, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” They would take breaks briefly to sing folk songs.

Across the street, a few Trump supporters assembled. Some wore the familiar red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps.

One brought a giant American flag-festooned parade float-like trailer. On top, enormous letters spelled out Trump’s last name and declared it was the “Unity Bridge.”

Bill Roberts, 36, of Allen Park was among them.

“I think the anti-Russia stuff is pretty hysterical, almost at McCarthy-like levels,” he said. “Trump’s right, though. It’s better if we work with Russia than get into a confrontation with them. I think with Trump, a lot of things are just common sense.”

At one point during the protest, Deatrick introduced fellow Washtenaw County Commissioner Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed, the former Detroit health director.

“Donald Trump will hear that Washtenaw County stands up against hate and against destroying our environment,” Morgan told the group, using Deatrick’s megaphone. “Donald Trump needs to know that in our community love trumps hate. Here in Washtenaw County we respect people, we respect diversity, we care about our environment and each other.”

El-Sayed blasted a draft proposal by the Trump administration to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.

“There’s no false dichotomy between jobs and clean air, between jobs and clean Great Lakes,” he said. “So we will resist anyone who is willing to cut 97 percent of funding to the agency responsible for protecting our clean air and water.”

He also urged people to show Trump and the Republican Party how they felt by casting votes against GOP candidates in this year’s elections.

“We have to come out the same way in August and November,” El-Sayed shouted.

Rebecca Kanner, 59, of Ann Arbor said she came to the demonstration because she wanted her voice heard.

“I’m here for the environmental stuff,” she said, adding that she worries the Trump administration wants to effectively shut down the EPA.