Perspectives from the Parking Lot: Protesters and Supporters on President Trump's SD Visit

Sep 7, 2018

President Donald Trump waves to a group of supporters after landing in Sioux Falls Airport.
Credit Lori Walsh

Almost two hours before the president's arrival, a lone protester stood on the intersection of Russell Street and West Avenue. She wore  a Nike brand tank top, and her sign echoed the recent controversial Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.

Ashley, who preferred not to give her last name or have her photo taken, drove from Brookings because she wanted to make her voice heard. She explained the Nike ad was an inspiration to her to speak out on the things she thinks are wrong with the country right now.

Eventually, many protesters gathered along West Avenue across from the convention center, but a few roamed the parking lot and tried to get a sense of the best location from security. 

Security directs some protesters to areas beyond the convention center parking lot that are private property, but small groups of protesters and supporters alike are permitted to stay just beyond the barricades near the building's main entrance.
Credit Jackie Hendry

This was Ann and Pete Husla's first experience protesting. Ann held signs reading, "Science: Make America Smart Again" and "America Was Always Great." Pete Husla said he is a life-long Republican, but he cannot abide the changes he's seen in the party recently. 

The two approached the barricade along with Jude Fullenkamp of Hartford. She shared a similar political history.

But protesters weren't the only ones staking out a spot along the barricade. Several Trump supporters hoping to catch a glimpse of the president also waited for more than an hour outside the convention center. 

Courtney Kelly of Sioux Falls took his six-year-old grandson Andrew out of school early so they could watch the motorcade. 

Courtney Kelly brought his grandson Andrew to take advantage of the rare opportunity to witness a presidential visit.
Credit Jackie Hendry

Kelly says Andrew knows who the president is from seeing him on television, and Kelly wanted to be sure he had a chance to see him in person. "Who knows when he'll get another chance," he said. 

Kelly explained why he holds strong with the Republican party and what he hoped his grandson would get from the experience.

Sherry Martinmaas was so excited to see the president that she forgot to record the motorcade on her cell phone. She said she has wanted Trump to be president for 30 years.
Credit Jackie Hendry

Another supporter, Sherry Martinmaas of Sioux Falls, took time off work for the occassion. She said she's wanted Donald Trump to be president for 30 years. 

Martinmaas believes President Trump is the only one with the guts to get things done, and she hates the way many focus on his past rather than what he's doing now.   

Other supporters preferred not to give recorded comments. One man from Burke took issue with a protester's "Impeach" sign, saying they should be ashamed of themselves. He briefly engaged with the group. Most supporters and protesters kept their distance after the altercation.

Around 3:25, the presidential motorcade drove past the protesters on West Avenue and turned in front of the Sioux Falls Convention Center's main entrance. Supporters cheered and protesters chanted as the motorcade passed without stopping and rounded the west exit of the lot. After all of a few seconds, it was over. 

Moments later, those hoping to see or be seen during President Trump's first visit to South Dakota quietly dispersed while the main event inside the convention center was only just beginning.