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Jamaal Abegaz leads a chant by protesters during President Donald Trump’s campaign appearance Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, at Delta Hotels by Marriott in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service2 / 3
Protesters wait outside during President Donald Trump’s campaign appearance Friday, Sept. 7, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service3 / 3

FARGO — Although the crowd was notably smaller than the last time President Donald Trump touched down in Fargo, demonstrators showed up with signs and chants on Friday, Sept. 7, to welcome and protest him.

Roughly 60 people gathered near the Delta Hotels by Marriott in south Fargo where Trump attended a fundraiser for the Senate campaign of Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who's trying to oust incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Demonstrators watched as the president's motorcade arrived at about midday, with some waving and others chanting against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Protesters shouted "Hell no Kava-no!" and "Eat the rich!"

The cost for a couple to attend the fundraiser started at $1,000. Protester Dakota Rhodes, 28, said that's more than her mortgage payment, a disparity she wrote about on a white-and-gold posterboard.

"It's upsetting that we have this closed-door event, and they're deciding your election. It's corruption. Keep money out of politics," Rhodes said.

Demonstrators were not allowed on the sidewalks nearest the hotel and had to stand across the street. Marchelle Ceryes, of Moorhead, showed up outside the hotel in support of the president as an American Indian woman opposed to the actions of child protection services.

Ceryes said she last saw her daughter in 2012 after she was taken away, and ever since she's been "trying to find justice." Thursday, Sept. 6, was her daughter's 15th birthday, and Ceryes said she wishes they could be together again.

Barb Dunn, of Fargo, said she went online to learn how to make her own horn out of a water hose, oil funnels and a trumpet mouthpiece. She carried it around during the protest along with a "Stop Kavanaugh" sign.

Moorhead resident Pam James said she took part in her first protest in 1967 in Washington, D.C. Now in her retirement, she said she continues demonstrating.

"I have 10 signs in my car at all times," she said, laughing.

Charles Tuttle of Minot, who's running for U.S. House, set up a booth full of Trump merchandise. He said he was in Fargo for Trump's rally in June, and said he understands the need for another visit to help Cramer.

"I know Heitkamp is out-fundraising us 2-to-1," he said.

Tuttle said the country needs a Republican who "stands for this president."

"I'm tired of Republicans that don't support the president," he said.

Some residents who live near the hotel were caught off guard by the president's visit. "I didn't know anything about it," Heather Anderson said. "I think it's beyond awesome. I'm all for Trump."

Anderson was trying to leave for work, and many of the streets in the neighborhood were blocked. She said she called her boss to say she would be late.

Fargo Police Chief David Todd said multiple law enforcement agencies provided security for the president, including Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead police, the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the sheriff's offices of Cass and Clay counties.

Todd said the efforts were similar to the last time the president was here. Those efforts included using snowplows and dump trucks to block streets, and working with the U.S. Secret Service, which had been in Fargo for at least a couple of days before the event, the chief said.

The Secret Service did security sweeps of the hotel area, and squad cars were stationed nearby. Trump's motorcade left the hotel shortly before 2 p.m., about two hours after arriving.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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