DETROIT (WWJ) – The sign over the podium read: “Buy American, Hire American,” as UAW members gathered inside a converted airplane hangar in Ypsilanti to await a speech by President Donald Trump regarding the U.S. auto industry.
Many of the autoworkers on site told WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert they were given time off with pay to attend the event, some of them brought on buses to the American Center for Mobility — the site of the old Willow Run bomber plant, west of Detroit.
Gilbert reported the crowd was a mix of supporters and the curious.
Gwinn Moore was in the latter group.
“I did not vote for Trump,” Moore said. “But I thought the opportunity just to see in person who was making the decisions for our country.”
While the UAW officially supported Hillary Clinton, many members who reject that are crediting with helping Trump win the state.
Worker Richard West was one of them. “When he said on the trail made sense,” he said.
Outside the building, demonstrators both for and against the president.
WWJ’s Sandra McNeil said a handful of supporters stood aside a large bridge-shaped float with American flags, playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
On the anti-Trump side, a few hundred people waited in the cold for the president to arrive, many carrying signs.
“The first sign says: ‘Mr. Hate, Get Out Of My State!'” said Blithe Peltier of Ann Arbor. “And the other side says: ‘Melania, Blink Twice If You Need Help.'”
What’s her gripe with Trump?
“You know, Obamacare really helped me out this year,” Peltier said. “And I grew up in Ann Arbor and it was really cultured and a lot of my childhood was really blessed because there were so many colors of people and ethnicities, and it was beautiful. And the fact that he wants to take that away from the next generation is just devastating.”
Others told McNeill they were there to protest the Republican health care bill they called “Trumpcare,” and to show their support for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
One protester was briefly detained by police after, during an argument with a Trump supporter, she allegedly ripped a banner or a flag off the Trump float. There were no arrests.