TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – A state road through Ithaca was blocked by protestors with the Democratic Socialists of America during a pro-Trump rally on Friday. At least one Trump banner was taken and burned in the road, and some of the Trump supporters in attendance were cornered into the county GOP headquarters.
When Ithaca Police arrived at the confrontation, they directed some traffic around the blockade then left.
Trump rally co-organizer Nancy Crawford said she was disappointed in the police’s response.
“I wish they would have intervened,” Crawford said. “I wish they would have told people that they had no business being in the street.”
Crawford said she and her husband wanted to have a rally to show people driving through that there are some Republicans in Tompkins County. They didn’t want a conflict and she said she wouldn’t have come if she had known a counter rally was planned.
The counter rally was organized by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the clash at the rally was unfortunate and avoidable.
“It’s really hard for the officers to create an operational plan that keeps everybody safe. It’s one of the reasons we ask people to apply for assembly permits,” the Democratic mayor said.
Myrick said if the Tompkins County Republicans had applied for an assembly permit in advance, it would have allowed the police to make better plans for crowd control ahead of the rally.
He said neither the Republicans nor the Democratic Socialists of America had applied for permits.
Officers from the Ithaca Police and Tompkins County Sheriff Department arrived after anti-Trump protestors blocked NY Route 13, in front of Tompkins County Republican Party campaign headquarters.
The officers were briefly on the scene but left. Protesters continued to partially block the road and some violent scuffles between protesters and the Trump supporters ensued.
“We don’t want physical altercations and the police do what they can to prevent physical altercations,” Myrick said. “But, they do not assume that anytime there’s going to be a political rally there’s going to be scuffling and fighting.”
The Ithaca Police Department did not respond to interview requests from WSKG.
Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne said his department is not staffed to step in when the Ithaca Police Department does not. The department has four deputies for the entire county, while the Ithaca Police Department has over 60 officers.
“My job isn’t to take sides, but to protect people who want to [peacefully] express themselves,” Osborne said. “However, people do not have the right to start fires in the street, put their hands on others, and block major thoroughfares.”
Ithaca police previously intervened to separate opposing groups and control traffic during a confrontation at a Back the Blue, pro-Trump rally in Ithaca earlier this month.