Trump skips town, but still fo­cus of ral­lies

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Ashraf Khalil

WASH­ING­TON >>

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump skipped town for the week­end, but that didn’t stop de­mon­stra­tors from mak­ing him the fo­cus of com­pet­ing ral­lies in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal that high­lighted the stark po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in the United States.

Kick­ing off a Satur­day of di­verse demon­stra­tions, about two dozen protesters gath­ered in Lafayette Square, a park just across Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue from the White House, to de­mand that Trump take strong ac­tion against Rus­sian leader Vladimir Putin in re­tal­i­a­tion for Moscow’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion.

They car­ried signs that said “We’re not PUTIN up with it!” and “Pro­tect Amer­i­can Democ­racy.” Af­ter their rally, marchers headed to the home of the Rus­sian am­bas­sador a few blocks away.

Nearby, on the Na­tional Mall close to the Wash­ing­ton Monument, about 500 Trump sup­port­ers as­sem­bled for an all-day demon­stra­tion and con­cert, though or­ga­niz­ers pre­dicted that num­ber would grow as the day pro­gressed.

The event’s web­site ap­pealed for peo­ple to “help send a mes­sage to Congress, the me­dia & the world” that “we stand united to de­fend Amer­i­can cul­ture & val­ues.” The pitch to would-be par­tic­i­pants: “If you stand for pa­tri­o­tism and free­dom, this rally is for you!”

Trump was spend­ing the week­end at his golf club in New Jersey be­fore at­tend­ing the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly next week.

Later, in front of the Lin­coln Memorial, jug­ga­los, as sup­port­ers of the rap group In­sane Clown Posse are known, ral­lied and read­ied for a con­cert. They are push­ing their de­mand that the FBI re­scind its clas­si­fi­ca­tion of jug­ga­los as a “loosely or­ga­nized hy­brid gang.”

The rap duo has de­vel­oped an in­tensely de­voted fan base over the course of a 25-year ca­reer, and some fans held signs that said, “Mu­sic is Not a Crime.”

A 2011 re­port by the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Gang Task Force placed the jug­ga­los, who fa­vor ex­ten­sive tat­toos and out­landish face paint, in the same clas­si­fi­ca­tion as overtly vi­o­lent gangs such as the Bloods and the Crips.

The rap group and its fans claim to be a non­vi­o­lent com­mu­nity sub­ject to largely class-based dis­crim­i­na­tion by law en­force­ment. The band, along with the ACLU, sued the FBI in 2014 seek­ing to change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion but with lit­tle suc­cess so far.

SU­SAN WALSH — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Peo­ple gather on the Na­tional Mall Satur­day in Wash­ing­ton to at­tend a rally in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in what or­ga­niz­ers are call­ing ‘The Mother of All Ral­lies.” Trump was spend­ing the week­end at his New Jersey golf club.

About two dozen protesters gather in Lafayette Square, a park across Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue from the White House, Satur­day en­cour­ag­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan to de­fend Amer­i­can democ­racy from Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence.

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