Editor's Note: This article has been edited.
HAWTHORNE, NJ - Trump supporters marched up Lafayette Avenue Saturday showing support for police, military and the president, while there were some dissenters who made their feelings known along the route.
With a heavy police presence at intersections and along the route, approximately 100 individuals decked out in red, white and blue, and carrying Trump 2020 flags of various types, began at the municipal pool on Wagaraw Road and May Street and ended at the Municipal Building on Lafayette Avenue.
The September 26 event, led by Joseph DiPasquale and supported by Billy Prempeh, Republican candidate for New Jersey's 9th Congressional District, was promoted on Facebook as a "Pro-Police, Pro-Military, Pro-Trump" rally and walk.
Prempeh will face incumbent Democrat Bill Pascrell and Chris Auriemma, Veteran For Change Party, in the November 3 election, which includes the presidential face-off between the Republican Trump/Pence ticket and the Democrat Biden/Harris ticket.
The rally began at 11:00 a.m. as Trump supporters gathered at the pool waving their large flags for those passing on Wagaraw Road, many of whom honked in support.
The spirited walk was met with some dissenters along the way, most of whom happened upon the march, but included a few holding signs. Some individuals engaged in verbal sparring with Trump supporters.
"These people are self-discrediting enough, especially when Proud Boys are present," one Fair Lawn man who looked on from the sidewalk said. He wished to remain anonymous. "The best thing we can do is to show them this is not unanimous. Just a handful of people in opposition proves it. They need to understand that they should fight battles based on whether they're right or wrong, not on if they can win."
Earlier in the summer, on June 7, a Black Lives Matter demonstration marched along the same route, from the pool up Lafayette Avenue, culminating in speeches at the Municipal Building.
Todd Parkhurst, a long time Hawthorne resident who attended this rally and the BLM protest in June on his Harley, said he was disappointed that people who were not in agreement with the rally's theme felt it necessary to heckle them. "There was no opposition to BLM when they had their rally in June, we let them be, no interference, no cross messages."
The keynote speaker was 9th Congressional district Billy Prempeh from Paterson. "They want to get rid of the police," he said to the crowd, "they still want to tear it apart.
Prempeh spoke to the enthused gathering before their march to borough hall, relating a story of a Rutherford man who fled Azerbaijan, then a Soviet republic, who had worries about our current political climate. "He told me that when he was a child, he and his little sister, they watched their father get taken out into the middle of the street, set on fire, and killed by the Communists that had taken control of his country... He said for thirty years of my life, I’ve never thought that we’d be in a situation like we are right now. And he’s saying, I see what happens in Kenosha, what’s happening in Minnesota, Oregon, all these places, and I see how they’re just tearing the city apart."
Prempeh continued. "You know, it’s a different feeling, like a lot of us, you guys support me, you like me, but when I see somebody who’s really seen trouble, really seen communism, who’s really seen socialism, telling me these things, and telling me that I’m the guy, it was a very humbling situation, very humbling thing to feel, and it was like, I know I’m doing the right thing, I know that a lot of you guys are doing the right thing. We’re on the right side of history, no pun intended, but we’re on the right side of history and I like the direction we’re going in. And we’re going to win in November, the president’s going to win in November. Hawthorne, let’s go out, let’s kick some ass."
He asked the audience to join him for a community clean-up in Wrigley Park, Paterson, on Sunday. "I want to make a huge show of force. I want to let people know that the Right doesn’t care about themselves, they care about everybody. We want to do what’s right. You got a lot of people all across the state, some people from New York, couple people from Philadelphia, going to be coming to try and help out."
Joe DiPasquale, a North Haledon resident and organizer of the rally along with rallies in other parts of Passaic County, said of Prempeh, "I met him two months ago in Haledon, and we became good friends, he’s a great guy, and he’ll do a lot better than Bill Pascrell will be doing."
The group proceeded to borough hall, then walked back down Lafayette Avenue to the pool lot, chanting along the way.
Some of the rally chants included: Mexicans for Trump; Back the Blue; Hawthorne for Trump; Refund the Police; USA, USA, USA; Defund Murphy; Fake News, CNN; Fill that Seat; Freedom Over Fear; 4 More Years of Freedom, 4 More Years of Trump; We Love the Police; Babies Lives Matter; and All Lives Matter.
Jessica Ellis and Sharon Albin contributed to the reporting in this article.