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When a Pro-Trump Rally Happens in a Small Liberal Town

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By Rebecca Rush 

If you have never been to a Trump protest with both sides rallying, I can sum the whole thing up for you in five words: Facebook comments come to life. 

If you’d like to know more, read on.

New London is a magical place on the shoreline of Connecticut. New Londoners are ever vigilant, ever involved in the running of their own town. They are freethinkers and huge hearted folks. It’s a small town version Seattle for punk, Portland for the hippies, and Brooklyn for the nightlife. It’s got a population of  27000 people and I’m pretty sure over half are artists. New London is not where I was born. It is not where I grew up. It is where I AM FROM.

The 45th president of the United States traveled to New England for the first time on May 17th. At the Coast Guard Academy, he addressed the 136th graduating class in the city of New London, CT.  This is how most of the town felt.

Photo by Rebecca Rush

Photo by Rebecca Rush

Photo by Rebeca Rush

But there’s a Cavenagh – I mean a caveat; Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh, realtor, self-proclaimed politician, and  Wicked Witch of the Whaling City. You can visit her public FaceBook page here.

Cavanagh is the kind of Trump supporter who says things like this: “Trump’s message, whether or not he follows through on it, was embraced by people across this country, for a reason. That message, America First, is the embodiment of American economic Nationalism versus Globalism. The Republican Party must not only adhere to that message it must adhere to its National Platform which is PRO-LIFE, and limited government. We cannot be the party of crony capitalists, globalists, and Planned Parenthood.

Don’t take her word for it. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the New London Day by David Collins back on July 30, 2014: “Fringe-hugger Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh was the best the GOP could do? How strange, I thought. They asked someone to run for Congress who has never held public office, a failed New London mayoral candidate who got only 96 votes out of 4,500 cast in that race. Most people knew Cavanagh as the sore loser who badgered the new mayor and anyone else who disagreed with her in the public comments of news sites after her unsuccessful electoral debut. I literally had to back away from her on one occasion, a fundraiser at Mohegan Sun, when she launched into a tirade about how the Day cost her the mayoral election and discriminated against her for being a woman.”

When she heard Trump was coming to town, she couldn’t organize fast enough in hopes of getting grabbed by the pussy – I mean kissing the golden ring. She organized a welcome Trump rally at McKinley Park, applied for exclusive use permits so that Trump protestors could not also use the space to exercise their free speech rights.

From The New London Day: “The organizer of a flag-waving, Trump-welcoming rally planned for the president’s visit to the city on May 17th, calls the city’s delay in issuing a permit for exclusive use of a city park a violation of her First Amendment rights…she anticipates the city will try and “cram everybody together,” including a “bunch of rowdy thugs,” that will all but assure the gathering does not take place.”

Yes, that’s a Trump supporter in full KKK get up

The only rowdy thugs at the protest were her supporters. A couple of them called me a pig. To be fair, I was farting at them while spanking myself at the same time. I guess that’s just what kind of journalist I am.

Here’s something you don’t hear every day – the New London police force were all honor and calm and de-escalation training that day.  Or maybe they were just as fed up with Lori as we were. Here’s her Mother’s Day FB post, just a few days before the rally: “Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. Enjoy it before they change it to Parent’s Day or call you a racist, bigot or homophobe for honoring lifelong traditions….

On the day of the protest, an army vehicle for Trump supporters was provided by Lori for transportation to and from parking. The result was something like the Beverly Hillbillies gone wrong, with seemingly the same five supporters riding back and forth and spouting hatred. According to Cavanagh, hundreds more stayed away because of the town of New London.

Meanwhile, at 8:00 am at the Sailors and Soldiers monument in downtown New London, the artists, dreamers, and the freethinkers were gathering together with signs, songs, and peace.

Unify and Resist was under way.

The coalition is formed of over a dozen local activist groups, including Rise Up Mystic, coming together as one. This election has helped so many to realize that we are all fighting for the same thing – basic humans rights for all. Activist group Raging Grannies led a round of protest songs.

Photo by Rebecca Rush

 “We wouldn’t want to see supporters are without some sort of opposition,” said Laura Nadelberg of New London, and of Unify and Resist.

The flyer that was handed out as the march began.

On the two-mile march we were treated to the most heartwarming scene I have ever witnessed; an entire classroom of children waiting to meet us at a playground at the Regional Multicultural Magnet School, holding signs that said things such as, “Treat all people with respect.” “That’s our future,” a few gasped. We could all learn so much from them. Every sign those kids held was nothing but love.

Kids full of love, not hate

When the march reached the destination, Lori was seated on a wall screaming into a microphone about free speech & the evil left. Having just been informed of the fact that she self-funded her run for mayor and her weekly radio show but had no money to help her step kids go to college, I shouted: Who pays for your radio show Lori?” She tried to scare me by inviting me up to her microphone and stage.

Now, for most people in the world, that is a horrifying idea. But what Lori didn’t know is that I’m a stand-up comic and stages and microphones are a few of my favorite things. It’s moments like this, you just know the universe has your back. The Norwich Bulletin captured our entire exchange here.

As soon as that encounter was over, she mounted her broomstick and flew off to lose in court. In the past, judges have begged to be recused from having to oversee her constant abuse of the court system. This time they were just like, “Naw, bitch. Naw.”


New London is the place I lived when I began comedy, and the only place I am still running a comedy show two years in (June 8th, 8:00 pm, 33 Golden St is the next one).

It is the first place I ever felt accepted. The first place I ever felt at home. The first place I felt inspired to unify and resist against my own internal conflict. Now if they only had some de-escalation training for that.

Almariet Palm, a 27-year-old grad student at UConn’s Avery Point campus in Groton & activist affiliated with Rise Up Mystic –  summed up the day’s major takeaway:

I realized that the blind divide should not be what this is about. It’s not about shutting down the other side or drowning out their chants with yours. Even though I feel it was the only way to get our point across, it was foolish and unproductive to be pinned against each other like that. The answer always lies somewhere in between. We must strive to focus on the issues at hand and not get caught up in the social noise that we are all such victims too. ..I can’t fathom the thought of arguing with people that can support such a wad of lies. But if I can’t even start a conversation how can I change their mind? It made me want to improve my communication. It felt great being a part of such a strong and supportive group of people committed to preserving our fundamental rights. To speak out. Stand up. And keep resisting.”

Photo by Rebecca Rush

Amanda Toler, a 24-year-old social worker from Norwich as pictured with her sign above had this to say: “This was my first protest. I kinda just stood there with my sign quietly, and I felt uplifted. I felt heard.”

The children and the elderly have it right. It’s time we listen to them. Stay ever vigilant New London. I love you.

Photo by Rebecca Rush

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