In recent editions of The Beacon, I have read letters with views on the Friday-night displays of citizenship and political involvement on the corners of Downtown DeLand.
In one letter, a reader criticized Trump followers for what he perceived to be disrespectful behavior. In the following week, Trump supporters wrote to defend their group.
I was not there for the evenings those letters described. But I was Downtown as a participant on Oct. 9. Here’s what I observed:
I support the campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, so I had volunteered to hold a sign and wave on behalf of the Democrats. We were to meet at 5:30 p.m. near Georgia Avenue.
Most of the Democratic group proceeded past New York Avenue to assemble at Indiana Avenue. I found a spot to stand and wave near the intersection of New York and Woodland.
At my intersection, there were more Trump supporters than Biden supporters. (At Indiana Avenue, it looked as if Biden supporters were in the majority.) At Woodland and New York, the Trump group filled the northwest and southwest corners. Where I was, on the southeast corner, Trump supporters occupied the spots facing Woodland and a few Biden supporters were nearby facing New York Avenue.
The northeast corner was occupied by members of the Bible Baptist Church telling people about Jesus.
Near them was also a very nice young woman holding a flag I did not recognize. (When I walked over to introduce myself and ask her about it, I learned that its combination of rainbow lines and a multicolored fist was to represent advocacy both for the LGBTQ community and for marginalized peoples of all kinds.)
I estimate that more than half of people driving through our intersection chose not to engage. They kept their eyes on the road. I was happy to receive a good number of smiles, waves and thumbs-up on behalf of Biden. I was yelled at by Trump supporters in two vehicles and also received the middle-finger salute from two vehicles with Trump flags or signs.
Three members of the Trump group were quite vocal throughout the evening. One woman yelled pretty continuously. Two men each yelled intermittently. (One of the Trump group who yelled intermittently also crossed the street, apparently to run an errand or go to his car, and yelled derogatory things about Biden to me from a range of about 3 feet. When he returned, he did not yell at me again.)
The evangelists shouted out Scripture and teachings. They also sang three hymns together shortly before all the groups departed.
Shortly before 7 o’clock, a group of Trump-supporting trucks drove through as a group. I would estimate there were about a dozen vehicles. They did appear to be intentionally loud.
Drivers leaned on their horns or beeped in a regular staccato from just south of New York to almost up to Indiana Avenue. Passengers did yell out the windows. At least two trucks revved their engines loudly and intentionally.
I witnessed three instances of citizen unity throughout the evening. Three vehicles either did not see the directional sign or chose to ignore it and attempted to turn. Both Trump supporters and Biden supporters converged on the vehicles, shouting “No turns!” In two cases, the vehicles were dissuaded from turning and continued east on New York.
I take it to mean that, when citizens choose to work together, change is possible.
— Baugh lives in DeLand