Locals Protest Trump’s Arrival at Santa Monica Airport

Protesters gather near Ocean Park Blvd and Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 to protest the arrival of President Donald Trump. "I feel like he's trespassing," says Venice resident, Chris Blanch. (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

Protesters gather near Ocean Park Blvd and Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 to protest the arrival of President Donald Trump. "I feel like he's trespassing," says Venice resident, Chris Blanch. (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

Holding anti-Trump signs, people of all ages gathered in a residential neighborhood just outside the northern exit of the Santa Monica Airport shortly before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. They were there to protest President Donald Trump’s arrival in Santa Monica – his first visit to California since taking office in January 2017.

“He’s doing it on purpose,” said Maria Casey, founder of Venice Resistance, when asked what she thought of Trump coming to the Westside. “He could’ve gone elsewhere, like Burbank Airport, but he intentionally picked to land in the bluest part of LA.” 

“It feels like he’s trespassing,” agreed Chris Blanch, a Venice resident, and former SMC student. 

A US Secret Service official talks with members of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments shortly before President Donald Trump’s arrival at Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. It was Trump’s first visit to California since taking office in January 2017. (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

A US Secret Service official talks with members of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments shortly before President Donald Trump’s arrival at Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. It was Trump’s first visit to California since taking office in January 2017. (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

Nearby, dozens of officers from the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, and the California Highway Patrol lined the street, as a U.S. Secret Service officer shooed a photographer away from the airport’s exit.

As the crowd grew larger on the corner of South Centinela Avenue and Sunset Park Way, LAPD officers instructed the crowd and news media to move back 30 feet from the curb. A television news cameraman, who wished not to be identified, grumbled that they were allowed to stay on the curb when filming former President Barack Obama’s motorcade. Police officers strung yellow tape along the street where Trump’s motorcade would pass, as the protestors moved and stood on the nearby lawn of an obliging homeowner.

“You’re not welcome here!” The boisterous crowd chanted, at one point breaking out into song, singing, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” 

“I can stay at home and scratch the paint off the walls or I could come out here and do something,” said Denise McCann, a Santa Monica resident, when asked why she came to protest. “I feel just complete frustration that this criminal keeps getting away with lies. I’m very, very angry and I want him to know.”

Danny Rodriguez (center), a Trump supporter, drove from Fontana to confront the protesters in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. “I’m here to try to change minds,” he said. “I’m here by myself to take on everybody. If this country falls, the whole world falls. Real democracy comes from borders.” (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

Danny Rodriguez (center), a Trump supporter, drove from Fontana to confront the protesters in Santa Monica, California on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. “I’m here to try to change minds,” he said. “I’m here by myself to take on everybody. If this country falls, the whole world falls. Real democracy comes from borders.” (Helena Sung / Corsair Photo)

A man wearing a Make America Great Again t-shirt shouted at the crowd. The Trump supporter, Danny Rodriguez, had driven from Fontana to be at the protest. “I’m here to try to change minds,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here by myself to take on everybody. If this country falls, the whole world falls. Real democracy comes from borders.”

Holding a large sign that said, “Traitor,” Gene Feingold, 38, said that he immigrated to the US when he was nine years old. “I was born in the Soviet Union and am well familiar with how Russian corruption happens and seeing the US being turned into Russia is insane,” Feingold said. “I’m seeing the process of corruption – the erosion of free speech, free press, and punishing those who don’t toe the party line – that’s what happened in Russia.” 

But not everyone at the protest was opposed to Trump. “I came out today because I want to see Trump,” said Faina Lite, a Santa Monica resident who immigrated from Russia in 1979, and who voted for Trump after voting twice for Obama. “I don’t like [Trump’s] tweets or his personality, but I support Trump because he has done great things for the economy. He has done more for this country than any other president. We have to secure the border and immigrants have to come here in a legal way.” 

As Trump’s motorcade passed by shortly before 4:00 in the afternoon, the crowd jeered and stuck middle fingers into the air. Trump could be glimpsed behind the tinted window of a large black SUV waving to the crowd.

Kim Cheselka grimaced and hugged herself. “I’m so grossed out,” she said. “You see [Trump] on TV, but to actually see him in person, I had a visceral response and it was negative.”