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Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University, is a notoriously liberal town. That liberalism, both on and off campus, is taking on an increasingly intolerant and totalitarian tone, as was just demonstrated when a small pro-Trump rally was attacked by a crowd organized by the Ithaca Democratic Socialists, but also carrying Black Lives Matter and anarchist flags and posters.
The attack was reported in several local newspapers, including The Ithaca Voice:
A rally in support of President Donald Trump in downtown Ithaca descended into chaos on Friday afternoon, as multiple fights broke out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters who assembled to rebuke the rally….
The scene was tense from the beginning. A small group of Trump supporters gathered outside the Tompkins County Republicans office starting at 4 p.m., primarily led by Rocco and Max Lucente, who also helped organize the Trump march that took place earlier in October. From the start, they were met with a larger group of counterprotesters, organized by the local Democratic Socialists of America but attracting people of all stripes looking to oppose Trump, who were stationed directly across Meadow Street—reminiscent of the standoff that took place outside of City Hall during the aforementioned Trump event in Ithaca.
But while the two sides mostly kept their distance during that event, that was not the case on Friday. Soon after the start, one counterprotester, Dakota Ingraham, accosted the Trump supporters and stated he had felt threatened by one of their attendees: Ingraham claimed that during an argument a few minutes prior, he thought a man with Trump flags on his truck had reached into his vehicle’s cab for a gun, though he never actually saw a firearm. Inflamed by that, he argued with Trump supporters including both Lucentes and other rally-goers for several minutes. Police responded to the situation and briefly detained Ingraham after he tossed a Trump flag from the pick-up truck into the street, but he was released minutes later.
Promptly thereafter, counterprotesters began to move across the street, standing next to or in front of Trump supporters. The Trump ralliers began to fracture, some moving down the block, others staying in front of the building and exchanging words with counter-protesters. By 4:40 p.m., several of the ralliers had been backed into a corner by a group of counterprotesters who had ventured across the street, easily outnumbering the Trump supporters as both sides screamed at each other.
Here is video posted by The Ithaca Voice reporter:
Police were on scene for a bit while pic.twitter.com/eVPvlhrGG4
— Anna (@alittlelamb8) October 17, 2020
By 4:30 p.m., around 60 counterprotesters had crossed the street, intermittently blocking traffic, to confront the roughly 20 Trump supporters….
Earlier this week, the Ithaca DSA planned in response a “Trump Rally counter-demo,” to “let them know they are NOT welcome here,” the group wrote in social media posts.
“If pro-authoritarian forces are going to keep showing up in Ithaca we need to show them that they are not welcome here,” said David Foote, chair of Ithaca DSA, of the motivation behind the counterprotest.
Throughout the afternoon, the DSA members and joining protesters drew a clear line between Trump’s politics and themes of racism and fascism — maintaining that Ithaca is not a place where those themes are welcome.
“I think it’s really important in a town like Ithaca, with its liberal veneer, to actually demonstrate strong opposition to racist and reactionary politics,” said Prof. Russell Rickford, history, a member of the Ithaca DSA. “Quite often, liberalism is willing to accommodate the far right, to justify it and, by doing so, legitimize it….
But after over two hours, the counterprotesters declared “victory” and marched to the Commons through the streets, blocking traffic and garnering cheers and waves.
There, they celebrated and discussed future plans, including the rally for Black lives on Sunday, the 21st one since this summer.
“Today was a tremendous victory for the forces of anti-racism,” Rickford said. “It was a spontaneous and almost joyful display of, not only disgust with racism and fascism, but also a positive affirmation of an alternative politics, celebrating human dignity.”
This girl allowed herself to be photographed by the local news burning my hat. I fully intend to press charges for destruction of my property.
If you can help me identify her, I would appreciate it!
Though the local news reports tried to put a ‘both sides to blame’ spin on it, it is clear from video provided to Legal Insurrection by Trump rally organizer Rocco Lucente, that the DSA crowd attacked the Trump supporters, not the other way around. The video also shows graffiti sprayed on the storefront used by the pro-Trump group:You can see more of the attack in this video from The Ithaca Voice:
The Tomkins County Republicans issued this statement on Facebook, announcing that a planned “Back The Blue” rally in downtown Ithaca would go forward on October 24:
“WHEN THE MOBS CAME, OUR LEADERS ABANDONED US”
These were the opening words to the first Tucker Carlson Tonight which followed the initial George Floyd riots. This is what happened in Ithaca, New York yesterday. We gathered to have our Trump 2020 Rally, and at 4 PM were immediately met by a large group of counter protestors. After about a half hour went by and the counter protestors saw that they had a large numerical advantage, they began crossing the street.
At that point they began pushing, shoving, kicking, punching, stealing peoples signs and flags, taking peoples hats, and attempting to physically intimidate the crowd into surrender. It got to the point where the mob was attacking anyone who still had Trump gear on. We called Ithaca Police Department to let them know what was happening, but they didn’t show up for a half hour and merely directed traffic away from the riot once they did show up.
As a result, two women were physically injured by the mob. One of them, a 60 year old woman, had her shoulder dislocated by the mob. Finally, in the aftermath of that, we managed to get one officer down to the GOP Headquarters with two EMT’s to treat her. After that point, the mob declared victory and began walking down the street blocking the road in celebration.
The only way to respond to this is to show up a week from today.
If the mob learns that they can intimidate people into silence, it’s over. At that point, we no longer have freedom of expression in the place where we live. The ONLY way to show them that this doesn’t work is to show them that this will cause us to show up.
We hope to see you at the Back The Blue rally on Saturday.
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