By Gavin Off and
Hours before President Donald Trump was to formally accept nomination to a second term, his supporters filled a pavilion at Charlotte’s Park Road Park with a message Thursday afternoon.
“Donald Trump ran a campaign for president (in 2016) like no one has ever seen before,” said Tom Speciale of Vets for Trump. “He was really a true political outsider. He had universal name recognition and he had a message of ‘Make America Great Again,’ not this left-wing radical stuff.”
And, Speciale predicted, Trump is going to win again in 2020.
About 60 Trump supporters, including members of the Charlotte Regional Republican Volunteer Network and Latinos for Freedom, a Richmond County group, met at the south Charlotte park. No counter-protesters were in sight.
The event was billed as a pro-Trump biker rally to be followed by a “back the blue” parade. About 45 bikers took part in a flag-waving parade through Charlotte in the early evening, then were to reconvene for dinner to watch Trump accept his nomination.
But more people arrived at the park in cars than on motorcycles. They sold “Trump 2020” shirts and red “Keep America Great” hats and flew large blue Trump flags from the backs of SUVs.
The goal, said Sean Kilbane, founder of the regional Republican network, was to show support for the president and police officers.
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Protests have erupted nationwide over the police shootings of unarmed black men, including this week’s shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. An officer shot Blake seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed.
“I’m outraged by some of the abuse of power,” said Kilbane, who had been a law enforcement officer in Ohio.
But, he added, “police officers are some of the most selfless people.”