(Emily Larsen, Liberty Headlines) Pro-Trump demonstrators packed the house for a sit-in at a Charlotte city council meeting to protest statements by Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera that Trump supporters have no place in the Charlotte city government.
About 100 more people than normal attended the city council meeting to either participate in the sit-in, or to support Ajmera. The observation gallery was shoulder-to-shoulder, for what some called a rehash of the 2016 Presidential election campaign. Half the attendees held Trump-Pence signs and American flags, and the other half held handmade signs with slogans like “Sexism isn’t a Charlotte Value.”
On a local political show about a week earlier, Ajmera said that Republicans who support Trump “should have no place on city council whatsoever, or in mayor’s race.”
— Brett Baldeck (@BrettFOX46) July 24, 2017
“We believe that what she said was wrong, and it’s borderline unconstitutional,” Trump Supporter Jack Lambert told WCCB before the meeting started. “We have our right to our voice in this city, and in any government in the United States of America.”
Ajmera, a Democrat, was appointed to the Charlotte City Council in January, having no prior experience in local government. She is running for an at-large City Council seat this fall.
“We cannot have divisiveness, and Trump truly represents that divisiveness culture and we can’t have that culture on city council when we’re trying to heal our community with what we’ve gone through last year,” Ajmera told Charlotte Spectrum News.
Before the sit-in, organizer Sean Kilbane told the Charlotte Observer that attendees would be not only Republicans, but also unaffiliated voters, independents, and even some Democrats.
The sit-in was organized as a Facebook event by the Charlotte Regional Republican Volunteer Network. The same group of Charlotte area Republican volunteers gained national attention in June for a sit-in of about 40 people at a Charlotte Starbucks after a barista staff mocked a customer for wearing a Donald Trump shirt. Instead of writing the customer’s name on the coffee cup, the barista wrote “Build a Wall.” Starbucks’ corporate office apologized for the incident.
Many of the protesters said they felt Ajmera’s statements were hypocritical, and actually increase political division.
“I was very disappointed, because I feel if the tables would have been turned and it was a Democratic president or Obama, that would have not been said or tolerated,” protester Jenna Jordan told WSOC news just before the council meeting.
Those who showed up to support Councilwoman Ajmera didn’t agree.
“To say that her comments are just as divisive as President Trump’s is frankly laughable,” Ray McKinnon, who showed up to support Ajmera, told WSOC-TV.
Those that participated in the sit-in made no formal requests, but the demonstrators said they would have liked to hear remorse from Ajmera.
“At least an apology,” sit-in attendee Annette Imbrogno told Fox 46. “She doesn’t have to step down, but she needs to understand what she said and how people interpreted it, and she really needs to open her mind a little bit more.”
Ajmera did not formally apologize, instead suggesting that the community move on.
“I started the conversation on Trump’s values and I want to be the one to end it, with a call to action of mutual respect care and regard for our neighbors,” Ajmera read in a statement to the press.
Despite the packed house, the city council meeting proceeded normally without any interruption.
— Liz Foster (@lizfosterWSOC9) July 24, 2017
People from both sides talked with each other and discussed differences before the meeting started. At the end of the meeting, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts thanked the demonstrators on both sides for their professionalism, saying that they had been heard.