Nativist, racist radio “personality” John DePetro’s 200+ strong MAGA (Make America Great Again) March made the trip from the Providence City Hall to the Rhode Island State House trailed by an equal number of counter-protesters, playing instruments and banging drums. DePetro hosts a radio show on an obscure station in Newport. He has dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of loyal listeners. The MAGA March he organized drew participants from three states.
The counter-protesters that met DePetro’s march at the Providence City Hall and followed the MAGA March to the State House steps made so much noise that it was impossible to hear almost anything that was said by the speakers. The videos below were all shot by camera operator Daniel Ciora, who had to chase the speakers up and down the steps of the State House as they tried to figure out a way to cut through the noise of the counter protest.
The MAGA Rally opened with the National Anthem, sung by Shoshana Feistein, which really, almost no one could hear.
Jerry Zarella, a former East Greenwich Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to endorse Donald Trump, was the first speaker. Dealing with the loud counter protesters was difficult, but more difficult was dealing with John DePetro. Apparently having had enough of the noise, DePetro grabbed the mic away from Zarella and went on a two minute rant against the counter protesters, telling them they were un-American and that they should all, “Go to Hell!”
In the videos below I separated DePetro’s outburst from Zarella’s speech.
I can’t say much about the next video because Jacob Silva, known as “mini-Trump” just makes me sad.
Republican Party National Committee Chairwoman Lee Ann Sennick wants Donald Trump to “make commercial fishing great again.’ Sennick says the local fishing industry has been devastated by the regulations of the Obama presidency. Of course, the actual threat facing the RI Fishing industry is climate change, which Trump refuses to o anything about. So…
“How disappointed are we that these pathetic losers are here to disrupt our rally?” asked Joseph Trillo, a former RI State Representative and Donald Trump’s Rhode Island campaign coordinator, “Let’s start a mantra! WE LOST, YOU WON, GO HOME!”
That’s not a misprint. Trillo got his chant backwards. Fortunately, he caught himself after yelling “We lost!” one more time.
“With me!” Trillo continued, “We lost!- We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home! We won, you lost, go home!”
“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” asked RI Republican Party Chair Brandon Bell. Bell told the people “who made all the noise during the National Anthem” that they were “disgraceful.”
Pointing to the State House behind him, Bell asked those in the crowd from Resist Hate RI, “Why don’t you resist what’s going on in there?”
[edit: I received the following in response to this paragraph:
[“I read your article about the MAGA rally on Saturday. I noticed you mention ‘Resist Hate RI’ to refer to the protestors gathered. It would be really wonderful for you to acknowledge in your writing that the protest was a coordinated effort of several groups: White Noise Collective, Resist Hate RI, and a lot of long time Providence activists who organized by word of mouth rather than online.”
[As an explanation, I was quoting Brandon Bell, who had addressed his comment to Resist Hate RI. Bell did not seem to understand that there was an entire rang of groups that had come together for the protest.
[For my part, I hadn’t planned to single out any groups because I knew that no matter how many I listed, I would miss some important players. So, my apologies to anyone who may have felt slighted.]
Bell then predicted that Trump would win Rhode Island during his 2020 re-election campaign.
Finally the main event. DePetro gave his hate filled, rambling keynote. There was confusion initially as DePetro tried to figure out how best to be heard by the crowd. He descended the steps to be closer to the crowd. DePetro started by saying, “We’re going to try it this way!” To which the crowd, possibly mishearing, started chanting, “USA! USA!”
DePetro started to speak, then wondered if anyone could see him, and went back up the steps.
DePetro first thanked the State, Providence and Capitol Police, for “everything you do to protect us.” He then thanked the troops who were watching this train wreck of a rally from overseas via Skype. “We are proud of you! You are brave warriors! We honor you! And we thank you for protecting the greatest country on Earth, the United States of America!”
“The people of Rhode Island are with you!” said DePetro, in his message to Trump. “Help us get rid of the selfish, corrupt, incompetent politicians who hold our state hostage!”
DePetro then went on to describe Rhode Island as seen through his overtly nativist, racist lens, pitting “good’ white families against communities of color, which DePetro describes as “illegal aliens” and “drug dealers.” Not content with mere racism, DePetro also fat shames and goes after the poor:
“Here in Rhode Island we have seen jobs leave factories! Good, hard-working families continue to struggle, and our state has not seen a victory in a very long time! Empty buildings! Panhandlers! Drug dealers! Illegal aliens causing chaos in our communities! Our biggest building, the Superman building, is empty, and the only crane in the sky is the one lifting the 800-pound man!
“We started our march today in front of Providence ‘Sanctuary City’ Hall and we end up here [at the State House] in front of a drunken den of thieves!”
Noting recent corruption scandals, DePetro said, couching his fascistic call to extermination in something resembling a joke, “We need the Big Blue Bug to exterminate the den of thieves behind me!”
This is DePetro’s style: Say extreme, hateful things, but wrap them in stupid, easy to grasp jokes. This allows DePetro to have it both ways: he’s not just a serious commentator, he’s also a comedian. DePetro will decide afterwards if he was being deadly serious or merely being unfunny.
DePetro next checked off the common litany of right-wing radio complaints: bad roads, voter fraud, high taxes, government corruption. Whenever he thought he was starting to lose the crowd, DePetro fed them some patriotic, almost incoherent, raw meat:
“President Trump, we support you here in Rhode Island! Today belongs to us! This moment belongs to you! We demand leaders who will serve all of us, not serve themselves! Our message to the Rhode Island politicians is simple: It’s time to put hard-working American citizens and Rhode Islanders first! President Trump, help transfer the power back to the people of Rhode Island! Let’s see those American flags out there! Let’s wave ’em!”
Is it me, or does DePeto’s message to the President sound like a prayer?
DePetro got his base riled up easily by saying that Governor Gina Raimondo wants to give free tuition and driver’s licenses to “illegal aliens.” He led the crowd in a chant of “Lock her up!” directing Trump’s national call against Hillary Clinton towards Gina Raimondo locally. Who’s the mini-Trump now?
DePetro assured his audience that White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, who declined DePetro’s invitation to appear at the MAGA Rally, is “here in spirit.”
Spicer, said DePetro, “fights the fake news and the biased media every day” for President Trump.
“We’re going to drown out the other side!” pledged DePetro in response to the unrelenting counter-protest, “We are not going to be stopped!”
More racism against Rhode Island’s Lantinx community: “Federal Hill, years ago! The Italians came here the right way. Irish came here the right way! But those days are over! We need to build a wall! … And maybe we should build it around Central Falls!”
DePetro called Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, “The worst! The mayor says he will refuse to enforce President Trump on immigration! If Mayor Elorza refuses to deport illegal aliens, I volunteer to make a citizen’s arrest and lock him up!”
“I heard they sent ICE agents to Olneyville where during a raid 300 illegals all claimed their name was Mario Hilario,” said DePetro. Hilario is a local TV news anchor.
“We don’t want or need illegal aliens in Rhode Island! We refuse to be a Sanctuary State! I say start the deportations right now! Mayor Elorza! Shame on you for inviting dangerous criminals and gang members from third world countries into our state to drain our system and prey on our citizens! Shame on you! Let us be very clear: If he won’t enforce the law, Mayor Elorza should be locked up!
“Illegal aliens also hate WaterFire! They complain they can’t fish and wash their clothes if we keep lighting the water on fire!
“President Trump! Our message to you today: Real Rhode Islanders are with you! President Trump! We support you! Please support us and make Rhode Island God damn great again! I’m John DePetro, thank you!”
After DePetro finished, this guy said something.
An unusually sedate Terry Gorman, of the nativist hate group RIILE spoke next.
The next two videos provide and apt demonstration of John DePetro’s ability to connect with his audience. In the first video DePetro is answering questions from InfoWars‘ Dan Bidondi. In the last video, DePetro is telling RI Future what he thinks of them, and then walks away as our intrepid camera operator Daniel Ciora, is assaulted. (Fortunately, the assault was not grievous and Dan let it go.)