Additional reporting and photos by Chris Rabago
WINSTED — Ten days before the presidential election, two very different political rallies were held downtown on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Starting at 10 a.m, the Winchester Republican Town Committee held its “Connecticut for Trump Rally” at East End Park.
Approximately 40 people were at the rally. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, none of the participants taking part in the rally appeared to be wearing masks and did not appear to be social distancing from each other.
According to the latest statistics issued by the state on Friday, Oct. 23, there have been 76 total COVID-19 cases in Winsted, along with three presumed cases.
One of the residents at the Trump rally was Jerry Martinez, Chairman of the Winchester Republican Town Committee.
“We have several people who have come out today because they are really afraid of the direction of the country, not because of President Donald Trump, but where it could go if Donald Trump doesn’t win,” Martinez told The Winsted Phoenix. “We’ve got a taste of the Democrats socialist authoritarianism over the past ten months with our Governor Ned Lamont. These people in their guts know that there is something not right. The state is just not American anymore. What happened to our American values? It just seems like overnight, just all of a sudden, we live in a country that we don’t recognize anymore. So we’re out here doing what we can, which I think is quite courageous. We’ve heard all of these stories about Black Lives Matter and all these different groups and how people are attacked and whatnot. So I give them a lot of credit. This is their only outlet. Republicans have been isolated, both culturally and by the media. When we have these types of rallies, there’s a sense of community and just a sense that I am part of something that I agree with.”
Martinez is a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
At around 11:45 a.m., eight members of the group Waking Up Winsted, a group that supports Black Lives Matter, showed up across the street from East End Park in a counterprotest.
Waking Up Winsted has held Black Lives Matter vigils at East End Park on Saturdays at noon for the past several weeks.
Its members include Anne Henneberger, Rita DaRos, Amanda Shafer, and Lucianna Lamoureux.
“They were across the street saying some pretty bold and outlandish things about the Black Lives Matter movement,” Lamoureux said in an interview after the rally. “They were throwing insults at supporters of BLM who were across the street and outside of the CVS and the Dairy Queen. The people from the BLM rally did not respond to their hatred and instead responded with positivity. Some of them even told Trump supporters that they still loved them. If we feed into what they are putting out, it’s only going to make the fire larger. That’s not the message we’re trying to send. We’re trying to send a message of peace, kindness, compassion, and understanding of all people of all backgrounds. Despite the negativity they are sending, we are still going to show up to do our thing even after election day.”
Photos by Chris Rabago
Photos by C Anne Henneberger