About 200 people endured the cold weather to show their support for President Donald Trump on Saturday in Joliet.
They took signs and flags reading “Trump 2020” to the northwest corner of the intersection of Larkin Avenue and Jefferson Street. Several stood on the sidewalk cheering and encouraging passing drivers to honk their horns despite the nearly freezing temperatures, light rain and strong winds.
Will County members of a political action committee called Freedom Movement USA organized the rally.
“We basically put the word out on social media, and look what you get,” said Debbie Militello, a former Will County Board member and one of the organizers of the rally. “You get people. They come out.”
Militello said she and her fellow organizers aim to hold 55 rallies like Saturday’s around the country in support of Trump.
Hundreds of the president’s supporters already held a rally in Frankfort last month, not long after he was impeached by the House of Representatives. They organized another one in Algonquin earlier this month. The group also had announced plans for rallies in Indiana and Michigan.
Militello said talk of impeaching Trump had galvanized his local supporters because they were exasperated about what they saw as an illegitimate process. She even held up a sign reading “Stop the witch hunt.”
“I may not have liked our last president, but I did not go out and say ‘Impeach him,’ ” Militello said. “I respected him for the office he was in.”
She also said that organizers chose the Joliet location because of its accessibility for supporters around the state and for its visibility. Although she said a majority of voters in the Joliet area don’t generally vote for Republicans, she said, observers might be surprised by how many local supporters of Trump there are.
“I think it’s important for other people in Joliet, who live here, to know they’re not alone,” she said.
“If they support the president, they’re not alone.”
Joliet resident Brenda Dodge, 66, said she had hoped more demonstrators would have came out Saturday. She thought many still were nervous to publicly show their support of Trump, but she wasn’t shy about her praise for him.
“He’s done more in the three years, despite the crap that they’re throwing at him, than any president’s ever done,” Dodge said.
A few local elected officials and candidates showed up in support, including Will County Board member Steve Balich and congressional candidates Rick Laib, Krishna Bansal and Anthony Catella. Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, also came and spoke to the crowd.
“Thank you all for coming out to support our president and stopping socialism,” Schneider said. “Let’s reject socialism! We are the silent majority, but we will no longer be silent.”
The demonstrators held signs and wore shirts reading slogans such as, “Don’t be a chump, vote for Trump” and “Women for Trump.”
While several passing vehicles honked in support, some were not as friendly and shot back jeers and gave a thumbs-down, among other hand signals, to the pro-Trump demonstrators.
Many Trump supporters cheerfully yelled back retorts such as, “No hate here!” and “Four more years!” One Trump supporter said he hoped for more dialogue among citizens despite the divisions within the country.
“It seems like there’s a lot of hate on the other side,” said Joliet resident and Air Force veteran Bob Weir, 57. “We’ve got to stop all this bickering and instead get together and get stuff done.”