President Trump created a firestorm Sunday morning when he retweeted a Villages-News.com video showing a volatile protest that erupted at a Villagers for Trump golf cart parade two weeks ago.
Moments after the president’s tweet, controversy erupted because one golf cart driver chanted “white power” as he drove past screaming protesters. Trump later pulled down the tweet, which originally was posted by a Twitter user named Fifty Shades of Whey. White House spokesman Judd Deere then released a statement saying that Trump didn’t hear the “white power” comment but is a “big fan” of The Villages and he saw “tremendous enthusiasm” from his supporters.
The video originally was shot for Villages-News.com on June 14 by Gigi Croom, owner of Croom Multi-Media Communications. That media company partners with Villages-News.com and the video accompanied a story about the protest event written by Larry D. Croom.
On Sunday, the president’s tweet drew immediate interest from news organizations across the globe and quickly made the rounds of Sunday morning television news shows. CNN, Fox News and NPR released reports a short time after the tweet, as did USA Today, the Washington Post, Bloomberg.com, Politico, Time.com, BBC.com, The Guardian, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, to name a few. Forbes.com also posted a story with the headline: “White Supremacy In The Villages? What Trump’s Troubling Tweet Says About America.”
Shortly after the tweet went live, GOP Sen. Tim Scott condemned the video. Scott, of South Carolina, is the only black GOP senator. He called for the president to take the down “terrible” video, which he said he watched from beginning to end.
Trump’s tweet only showed a portion of the 3:45-minute-long video that started with supporters singing “Happy Birthday” to the president. It then shows golf carts laden with pro-Trump signs parading through Lake Sumter Landing, followed by an interview with protesters Sharon Sandler, a Democrat who called many of those driving past her Nazi lovers while also saying, “(expletive deleted) Trump.”
Sandler also labeled Villagers for Trump members a part of a “cult” and said it’s “really bad” living in The Villages as a Democrat.
The golf cart driver yelling “white power” can be seen at 1:23 minutes into the video as he confronts a Democratic protester. About 18 seconds later, a golf cart driver stops and comes close to getting into a fight with protesters. After words went back and forth, Sandler stood in front of the golf cart and the driver started to hit the gas as his wife and Sandler yelled insults back and forth. The driver then stuck his tongue out at the protesters and drove away.
Shortly after the incident, Sandler returned to calling the members of Villagers for Trump and Trump Team 2020 Florida members derogatory names. Fellow Democrat Katie Hiland, who earlier had pulled Sandler from in front of the golf cart, said she can’t stand the thought of Trump serving a second term.
“With everything that’s gone on the past four years, I just can’t take it anymore,” she said, while at one point having to walk away from the protests to calm herself down.
Not surprisingly, those sentiments didn’t set well with the many Trump supporters who attended the event.
Jeanne Stax, of the Village of St. Charles, agreed, adding that it’s important to keep America great.
“We’re losing it very quickly, I’m afraid,” said the retired state representative from Connecticut, who added that she cries when she sees the turmoil and violent rioting that’s going on across the country. “My heart aches. “I don’t see the same America we used to have.”
Village of Fenney resident Bill Briggs, who attended with his wife, Marti, agreed.
“I’ve never been to anything like this and I went to a fundraising dinner with Trump,” Bill said. “This is more exciting than anything I’ve ever seen. We need four more years of Donald Trump to finish what he started.”