1,000 chant­ing pro­test­ers aim di­rectly at Trump’s wal­let

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY PERRY STEIN AND DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD perry.stein@wash­post.com david.fahrenthold@wash­post.com Fahrenthold re­ported from Wash­ing­ton. Sand­hya So­mashekhar and Wes­ley Low­ery in Wash­ing­ton, Bill Dauber in Ran­cho Pa­los Verdes, Calif., and Lori Rozsa in West

west palm beach, fla. — The Satur­day evening march be­gan at Trump Plaza, a high-rise apart­ment build­ing Pres­i­dent Trump hasn’t ac­tu­ally owned since 1991. Fine. It still has the name. It was a good place to start.

From there, the marchers headed south, walk­ing along the In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way that sep­a­rates West Palm Beach from ritzy Palm Beach is­land. They stopped shortly af­ter 7 p.m. when they reached the bridge across from Mar-a-Lago.

They brought signs and glow sticks to wave, hop­ing they would be vis­i­ble across the dark wa­ter and the great green lawn of the club from up in the pri­vate apart­ment that is now the “win­ter White House.”

If Trump sees those green lights, he’ll know that his crit­ics have fol­lowed him home.

“He likes to think that every­body loves him. We’re show­ing him that we don’t,” said Lisa Wright, 53, an IT con­sul­tant from Broward County who was march­ing along the wa­ter­way Satur­day night.

Around 7:30 p.m., about 200 of the 1,200 marchers made it across the bridge to the back gates of Mar-a-Lago.

Across the street, a few dozen pro-Trump peo­ple waved Amer­i­can flags, but the spec­ta­cle was the pro­test­ers, beat­ing drums, singing and chant­ing.

This is the re­al­ity of Trump’s hon­ey­moon-free pres­i­dency.

Hav­ing sought to cre­ate un­prece­dented dis­rup­tion in Wash­ing­ton, his crit­ics will now seek to bring un­prece­dented dis­rup­tion to his life as pres­i­dent — in­clud­ing demon­stra­tions that fol­low him when he trav­els and protests that will dog his busi­nesses even when he doesn’t.

Al­ready this week, Trump — the most un­pop­u­lar new pres­i­dent in mod­ern times — can­celed a trip to the Har­ley-David­son fac­tory in Mil­wau­kee, where lo­cal groups had planned to protest his ap­pear­ance; the White House said the protests were not the rea­son for the can­cel­la­tion.

And, around the busi­ness em­pire that Trump still owns, his crit­ics treat each lo­ca­tion as an avatar for the pres­i­dent.

There have been small ges­tures of pique: lip­stick graf­fiti on the sign at Trump’s golf course in Los An­ge­les; and a plan for a mass moon­ing of his ho­tel in Chicago. There have also been more or­ga­nized ef­forts to take time and money away from fam­ily busi­nesses — a boy­cott of stores sell­ing Ivanka Trump’s clothes and a cam­paign to flood Trump busi­nesses with calls de­mand­ing that the pres­i­dent di­vest from his hold­ings.

For Trump’s op­po­nents, these demon­stra­tions are a way to change his be­hav­ior by dent­ing the pres­i­dent’s own self-im­age as a pop­u­lar man with a suc­cess­ful busi­ness.

The risk, for them, is that protests meant to shame Trump will con­sume en­ergy that could be used to beat him by win­ning elec­tions and sway­ing votes in Congress.

A protest “gets un­der his skin,” said Michael Skol­nik, a film­maker and prom­i­nent lib­eral or­ga­nizer in New York who sup­ports this sort of demon­stra­tion. He said he hoped that, some­how, get­ting un­der the pres­i­dent’s skin might turn out to be a good long-term po­lit­i­cal strat­egy.

“What if Trump can’t come out of bed for four days? That could hap­pen,” Skol­nik said.

In the later days of his pres­i­dency, Ge­orge W. Bush faced protests out­side his Texas ranch from peo­ple op­posed to the Iraq War. Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s trav­els, he some­times faced demon­stra­tions from lib­er­als push­ing him to do more on im­mi­gra­tion or the en­vi­ron­ment.

But nei­ther one faced or­ga­nized protest move­ments at the start of their pres­i­dency, con­demn­ing the pres­i­dent across mul­ti­ple pol­icy ar­eas. Trump does.

It be­gan the day af­ter his inau- gu­ra­tion, when more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple marched in Women’s Marches in Wash­ing­ton, across the coun­try and around the globe. It con­tin­ued the next week­end, when thou­sands of peo­ple gath­ered at air­ports to protest Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der on im­mi­gra­tion, which barred refugees and all visi­tors from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

It con­tin­ued this past week as the ad­min­is­tra­tion was con­sumed by the chaos that the en­try ban set off.

In New York City, for in­stance, hun­dreds of bodega mar­kets owned by Ye­meni Amer­i­cans closed Thurs­day to protest the same ban.

“You know how Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park is built on one of the world’s big­gest vol­ca­noes?” said Ben Wik­ler, the Wash­ing­ton di­rec­tor for MoveOn.org, a lib­eral ac­tivist group. “It feels like that just ex­ploded in terms of grass­roots en­ergy.”

Trump has dis­missed these protests — op­er­at­ing on the the­ory that he doesn’t need these pro­test­ers to like him and that their anger might help him by push­ing oth­ers closer to him. On Twit­ter, for in­stance, the pres­i­dent cast the Women’s March as a mas­sive out­pour­ing of sour grapes.

“Was un­der the im­pres­sion that we just had an elec­tion!” Trump wrote on Twit­ter. “Why didn’t these peo­ple vote?”

On Fri­day — af­ter a pair of vi­o­lent protests on col­lege cam­puses where con­ser­va­tive provo­ca­teurs were in­vited to talk — Trump seemed to lump these small groups of un­ruly pro­test­ers in with the rest of his crit­ics from the other events.

“Pro­fes­sional an­ar­chists, thugs and paid pro­test­ers are prov­ing the point of the mil­lions of peo­ple who voted to MAKE AMER­ICA GREAT AGAIN,” he said, al­though there is no ev­i­dence that any sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of demon­stra­tors are be­ing paid.

Across the coun­try, other groups have di­rected their un­hap­pi­ness to­ward Trump at his busi­ness em­pire, which he still ef­fec­tively owns, al­though Trump says he has shifted the man­age­ment to his ex­ec­u­tives and adult sons.

“I am scop­ing it out right now,” said a woman snap­ping pho­tos of the sign out­side Trump’s golf club in Ran­cho Pa­los Verdes, Calif., near Los An­ge­les. She gave her name only as “Diane” and said she was scout­ing the site for a protest.

“Peo­ple are p----- and feel they can’t do any­thing, but we want to hit him where it hurts,” she said. “I don’t think he wants peo­ple near his busi­nesses. We want to hit him where it hurts most — his money.” On an ear­lier day, the Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment took a van­dal­ism re­port — some­body crossed out “Trump” on the sign with lip­stick and wrote a Span­ish swear word there.

Oth­ers were more or­ga­nized about their ef­forts.

One group, Grab Your Wal­let, was started in Oc­to­ber af­ter The Wash­ing­ton Post ob­tained a 2005 video of a tap­ing of “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” in which Trump bragged about grop­ing women.

Shan­non Coul­ter, who helps lead the group, said she had a vis­ceral re­ac­tion af­ter that when she en­coun­tered Ivanka Trump­branded items while shop­ping. Ivanka Trump had con­tin­ued to cam­paign for her fa­ther af­ter the tape’s re­lease.

“I kind of had [Trump’s] words ring­ing in my ears,” she said. She helped launch a boy­cott cam­paign, which has grown to in­clude more than 60 com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s own ho­tels and golf cour­ses, busi­ness that carry Ivanka Trump mer­chan­dise and busi­nesses whose lead­ers sup­ported Trump dur­ing the elec­tion.

Coul­ter said her Face­book group has thou­sands of peo­ple con­nected to it. What they want, she said, is to “shop the stores we love with a clear con­science and with­out any bad mem­o­ries.”

Now, three busi­nesses that her group tar­geted for boy­cotts have sev­ered or loos­ened their con­nec­tions to the Trumps. Nordstrom said it would stop sell­ing Ivanka Trump mer­chan­dise, Nie­man Mar­cus stopped sell­ing her jew­elry on its web­site and the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Uber, the ride­hail­ing com­pany, pulled out of Trump’s busi­ness ad­vi­sory coun­cil.

An­other cam­paign of­fers Trump’s crit­ics a more di­rect — but pos­si­bly less pro­duc­tive — way to re­spond to Trump. It lets them call one of his com­pa­nies at ran­dom and com­plain to whomever an­swers the phone.

“Un­til he di­vests, these [busi­nesses] are em­bassies of the White House,” said Scott Good­stein, the co-founder of Cre­ative Ma­jor­ity PAC. He also runs Rev­o­lu­tion Mes­sag­ing, the Wash­ing­ton firm that set up the sys­tem.

The sys­tem con­nects call­ers to one of 30 Trump busi­ness phone num­bers. It could be a ho­tel front desk. It could be a res­tau­rant. Good­stein said they en­cour­age call­ers to “have fun with it.” For in­stance, if a res­tau­rant em­ployee of­fers to help make a reser­va­tion, one might say: “I have a reser­va­tion — that Don­ald Trump is not tak­ing this job se­ri­ously.”

Since this ef­fort started in De­cem­ber, the PAC says it has fa­cil­i­tated 33,000 phone calls and been blocked by 51 Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion phone num­bers. He said it’s hav­ing the de­sired ef­fect by squeez­ing Trump’s busi­ness in a way that would squeeze the man him­self.

“It’s def­i­nitely hav­ing an ef­fect on Trump’s busi­nesses,” Good­stein said. “And I’m sure that Pres­i­dent Trump will know that this act of dis­sen­sion is tak­ing place.”

But Alan Garten, chief le­gal of­fi­cer for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that the phone calls have not in­ter­fered with the busi­ness. And even if they did, he said, Trump would not know about it be­cause he has re­signed from his man­age­ment roles.

“There’s a com­plete sepa­ra­tion,” Garten said. “He may read [about] it in the news­pa­per, that I don’t know.”

JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

In Palm Beach, Fla., Satur­day, anti-Trump pro­test­ers carry a flag­draped cof­fin said to sym­bol­ize the death of democ­racy.

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