MILFORD — Milford Mayor Sean Strub said he knows many Trump supporters.
“They are generally thoughtful, caring, patriotic, hard-working people who aren't consciously racist, homophobic or misogynistic," he said. "It has pained me, and some of them who are my friends, that we have such a huge divide over the election, but I see sincere efforts on both sides to bridge that gap.”
He said this when considering the insults hurled at the Inauguration Day women's march in Milford, some of which were reportedly racist, sexist, and otherwise obscene.
Strub said did not know any of the people hurling verbal abuse that day.
Pike County GOP Chairman Christopher Decker said the Republican Party runs a clean campaign and doesn’t condone nasty language.
“We don’t like it when it happens to us, and these people had no connection to the party that I’m aware of," he said.
Republican State Representative Rosemary Brown called such abuse “detrimental."
“Abusive language and racist comments are never a way to bring people together," she told the Courier.
She emphasized the importance of character.
“We each need to develop the best character we can," she said.
Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg did not return calls for comment.
'Sending you love'The right to free speech is a foundation of American democracy, a right that was exercised in the march by members of the newly formed Delaware Valley Democratic Club. The march underscored an emotionally charged local political atmosphere that was undeniably sometimes ugly.
Milford Strub, who was among the marchers, said, “I wasn't surprised that we would get some negative response. It has been a contentious and angry political climate and that is part of the result."
But he said he was surprised at the intensity of the bitterness and anger.
“When one guy was screaming ‘F*** you all!’ at us, the woman in front of me responded, ‘We are only sending you love!’" Strub recalled. "The guy responds, and I am not kidding, ‘Yeah, love to you too, but you could stand to lose a little weight.'"
One comment on the Courier's website, under a story about the planned Milford bus to the women's march in D.C., said, "You take pictures of whose on the bus so we know which businesses to BOYCOTT!”
"Shop local" is the motto of local chambers of commerce. But "boycott local"?
Messages left with the Pike County Chamber of Commerce were not returned.
Shohola resident Edson Whitney, who marched in Milford that Friday and also in Port Jervis the following day, said sentiment ran both ways in both places, but it was generally more supportive and calmer in Port Jervis, which had an estimated crowd of about 500.
“There was a police presence at every corner, and I think that helped,” said Whitney. (See related story.)
Whitney noted that these were not simply anti-Trump marches, but an expression of support for “our constitutional rights and a protest against what we see as a threat to those rights."
Editor's note: This story has been changed to omit a redundant sentence.