Almost a dozen women and men from South Orange and Maplewood staged a brief protest at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster on Sunday at the site of the U.S. Women’s Open, Sunday, July 16, 2017.
Most protests against President Donald Trump took place over the weekend far from the grounds of his Bedminster golf course, which hosted the U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
But that changed on Sunday.
Nearly a dozen members of SOMA Action, a six-month-old group from South Orange and Maplewood, arrived near Trump’s skybox behind the 16th tee. But after seeing that they might cause a distraction for the golfers, the protesters rerouted to a concession stand up the road.
The women then revealed the phrase on their white shirts: “THIS IS NOT NORMAL” on the back and “RESIST!” on the front.
One member of the security detail who appeared bothered by the protest walked in front of the women to make it more difficult for anyone shooting a photo or video to make out the words. But hesoon relented. There was no other noticeable reaction from the 1 p.m. lunchtime crowd to the protest, which lasted less than five minutes.
The women held miniature copies of the Constitution at one point, and one waved a small American flag.
Protesters and police sometimes clash, but the mood was very cordial in this scene at President Trump’s Bedminster golf course at the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday, July 16, 2017.
“We’re here because it is not normal for the president of the United States to also be the head of a giant corporation and profit off his business entities,” said one SOMA member, who declined to identify herself. “He did not release his tax returns, which is not transparent and is not fair to the people of the United States.”
A law enforcement officer and the women engaged in a friendly chat afterward. He politely asked what was written on the shirts, then kidded that the protesters might not want to demonstrate the “resist” side when officers were present.
The women responded that they felt safer in the officer’s presence. One woman noted that she was a fellow union member, adding, “I like cops.”
He smiled, and said, “Be good,” as he walked away.
“We’re nice people.” one protester said as they parted.
Some of the Essex County protesters seemed mildly intrigued by the golf spectacle, but one complained, “That’s the worst $25 I’ve ever spent.” The women left before 1:30 p.m.
The SOMA website says the group is “not affiliated with any political party or other political group” and that all current members share “commitments to nonviolence, diversity, participatory democracy, and taking immediate political action.”
Other protesters waited to make their presence felt until after Trump showed up at his skybox behind the 16th tee around 3:15 p.m. — the third straight day at the tournament for the first president to attend a U.S. Open.
Four protesters with UltraViolet — a women’s advocacy group — wore purple T-shirts that said “USGA: Dump sexist Trump” and stood outside the viewing area, staring in silence at the president.
The police in the area did not engage the protesters as Trump waved to his supporters and performed a golf swing minus a golf club.
“We wanted to look him in the eye,” said Melissa Byrne, one of the protesters.
Four protesters stood in front of President Trump’s box on Sunday during the U.S. Women’s Open. Trump was in the box and looked in the direction of the protesters, who wore shirts that read “USGA: DUMP SEXIST TRUMP.”
The protesters drew attention from media and other people in the crowd. As they began giving interviews, some other people began to voice their frustrations and jeered at both the media and protesters.
“What have you lost? They always say they’re afraid, but what are they afraid of?” said Victoria K. of Harding Township, interrupting an interview with one of the protesters.
“I’m an Asian-American immigrant and I feel like the country is better than ever,” she said. She declined to give her last name to reporters, saying that “fake news” would twist her comments.
For the most part, the demonstration was kept peaceful, with security officers standing near the action in front of the viewing booth.
“I think that this was an appropriate way to stand up for women. It’s been peaceful,” said Julia Ackerly of Philadelphia, who was with the advocacy group.
“We know that Trump knows this is happening and that we’re not going to be quiet on issues that affect women,” Ackerly said. “I’m happy that he got to see us today.”
Some youngsters were particuarly amazed that the president of the United States saw them, as he waved in their direction and they waved back.
One was Priya Lewis, 11, of Pittstown, who remained wide-eyed minutes later.
“It’s crazy!” Lewis said.
Some spectators registered their disapproval of the protesters.
A White House pool reporter said one woman yelled, “Look at what they look like” at the group of three women and a man wearing the “Dump sexist Trump” shirts.
Trump at one point looked out at his supporters and in the direction of the UltraViolet protesters, but it was not clear if he noticed the latter. A few minutes later, the protesters had a calm conversation with a Somerset County detective, bought ice cream and appeared headed to the exit.
One young woman from nearby Branchburg, Jessica Gallico, concluding that the media near the Trump skybox were focused only on the protesters, asked if any of them wanted to talk to a Trump supporter. She then told The Record that Trump is a good president for women as well as men, and that past vulgar comments by Trump should not be obsessed over. She also thanked “the men in blue,” the military and others who risk their lives for the country.
After expressing appreciation for receiving an interview, the woman said of the protesters: “The election is over. What do they want, anyway?”
After a moment, the woman added, “If Hillary had gotten elected, I might be doing the same thing.”
The president’s wife, Melania, and his daughter Ivanka joined him in the skybox around 5 p.m.
The tournament was won by Sung Hyun Park of South Korea, who finished 11 under par for the tournament. Former Wayne resident Marina Alex had the best finish among American players, placing in a tie for 11th.
Two other protesters briefly appeared Sunday morning at the entrance to the media parking lot a mile down the road from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster with signs critical of Trump’s cordial relationship with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
One sign said “Putin’s Puppet” and the other read “Trump = Putin’s Caddy.” Local police quickly arrived, and the men departed. A separate protest took place at the public library in Bedminster on Sunday morning.
Trump published a congratulatory tweet just before 7 a.m. on Sunday that read, “Thank you to all of the supporters, who far out-numbered the protesters, yesterday at the Women’s U.S. Open. Very cool!”
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