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Long IslandPolitics

Pro-Trump caravan rolls through South Shore, from Valley Stream to West Babylon

Supporters gathered in West Babylon on Saturday at a rally for President Donald Trump. Newsday's Steve Langford got the crowd's view on wearing a mask. Credit: James Carbone; AP

A caravan of vehicles with Trump 2020 flags waving and horns honking traveled through the South Shore of Long Island Saturday, in a visible show of support for President Donald Trump 24 days before the election.

"We want to keep America America," said Ann Wilcox, 66, of Glenwood Landing. "We don’t want to become a communist country. We want to keep our freedom, and Trump is the only one who will give it to us. You vote for the other side, and our country’s done."

The roughly 50 cars that made the 24-mile, 80-minute trip from Valley Stream to West Babylon, mostly along Sunrise Highway, were greeted by thumbs up, fist pumps and honks from people in other cars or watching from the side of the road.

But others, especially in racially diverse areas such as Freeport, responded with thumbs down and middle fingers.

Members of the caravan were overwhelmingly white. But Kim Mendez, 33, of Holbrook, who is Hispanic, said Trump "has done a lot for the Hispanic community" and she believes it is unfair that some call the president and his backers racist.

"My thing is, it’s OK to show support for the radical left," said Mendez, who, with a green gown and green foam crown to portray the Statue of Liberty, rode with her head outside the sunroof of an SUV and waved. "I’m a conservative. Why should we be embarrassed about who we support? We’re peaceful. We’re not burning down buildings and rioting."

Mendez and others used the same term to describe the supporters who they believe will carry Trump to victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election against Democratic nominee Joe Biden: "The silent majority." It’s a term Trump uses, and that Richard Nixon used before him.

Heather Liebman, 30, of Commack, said many Trump supporters aren’t vocal, because they’re worried about retaliation from opponents of the president, some of whom "automatically assume that because you support Trump, you’re a racist, that you don’t support all lives. ... People tell me, ‘He’s a Nazi.’ That’s ironic, because I’m 100% Jewish."

The caravan is a signal to those quiet Trump supporters that, Liebman said, "you’re not alone. There’s plenty of support out here. It’s not wrong to be supportive of Trump. When they see these rallies it helps them to come out and be open about where they stand. The left is bullying people to be quiet."

The caravan ended with a rally on both sides of Montauk Highway in West Babylon, with participants — few wearing masks — yelling slogans like, "Four more years!"

Kevin Smith, 31, of Lindenhurst, said the caravans illustrate an enthusiasm for Trump that is missing for Biden, and for past presidents.

"People are just sick and tired of it," he said. "It doesn’t matter who was in office: Bush, Obama, Clinton. It’s the same people, the same thing."

Trump, on the other hand, "talks like a regular guy," Smith said. "There’s a difference between an elitist and elite. He’s elite but not an elitist. He’s genuine."

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