Protesters at Mike Pence event in Zanesville say workers are left behind

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ZANESVILLE – A common thought process ran among protesters at a Trump campaign event in Zanesville on Wednesday geared toward workers — enough is enough.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Workers for Trump event, which was held at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds.

Pence in his speech touted the economic and job growth that occurred under Trump’s presidency. But protesters painted a different picture of their last four years with the current White House, one marked by broken promises and a rosy picture of a thriving working class that they say never came true.

Chuckie Denison was an employee of a General Motors plant that closed in Lordstown last year after the company reportedly decided to open a new factory outside the U.S. He said it spoke of hypocrisy from Trump, who campaigned upon a promise to revive manufacturing jobs and stop companies from outsourcing them to other countries.

“I support workplace democracy … I think we have a better chance pushing Biden toward Bernie’s (Sanders) policies rather than Trump’s, who is anti-worker,” Denison said, adding that Sanders visited the town last year to speak to United Auto Workers and American Federation of Teachers members.

Kyle Johnson has lived in Zanesville all his life and said he has felt the area has been neglected by the Oval Office. He wants to see more representation of his community at the federal level.

“We have lived in poverty and it has become normalized,” he said. “If he is reelected, it’s going to just be another four years of this area being impoverished.”

Some workers show support for Trump administration

Workers also came to the event in support of the Trump administration. Coal miners from a Perry County coal mine came for Pence’s speech. James Murphy said he believes his job still exists because of Trump renewing interest among business investors to support coal mines.

“The only reason we’re surviving is the guy who bought (the company) believes in Trump,” he said. “We were pretty well down to nothing, but we’re still kicking on.”

But people weren’t showing up at the fairgrounds just to support or protest how they perceive Trump’s track record on workers’ rights.

“He’s willing to take a stand for churches and pastors,” said Michael McGuire, pastor of Rushing Wind Biker Church. “He’s a man of faith, and we appreciate that.” 

Barb Sims owns Zanesville flower shop Elegant Decor N Floral Design. She said the pandemic has not been making it easy to be a small business owner.

“It’s been hard this year, but I have faith that he’ll bring us back,” Sims said

Protester Kathy Dickinson said Trump has let her and the American people down in other ways. She said his downplaying of the pandemic has been especially troubling considering the high number of deaths the U.S. has seen.

“We are here because we believe in Biden and Harris,” she said. “Trump has lied to us, enough is enough.”

Dickinson, now in her sixties, is a lifelong resident of Zanesville and wants to a true change in the community. And she said that can only be done with a new team in the White House.

“I stand for equality, I stand for injustice, I stand for the people in this community,” Dickinson said. “I stand here today to say I stand for a new leadership.”

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