Rep. Devin Nunes’ support of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration sparked a protest Wednesday in front of Nunes’ office in Old Town Clovis.
The crowd of about 80 people gathered around 4 p.m. near the intersection of Clovis Avenue and Third Street.
Participants filled the normally quiet streets of Old Town Clovis with chants such as, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all,” “The people united will never be defeated,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Nunes has got to go.”
By 5 p.m., the crowd had grown to an estimated 150 people and all four corners of the intersection were filled with protesters. Participants held up signs that read, “Dear Donald, we will fight. We will not run,” “Unapologetically Muslim,” and “We won’t give up!” Several drivers honked in support as they cruised past, while other drivers glowered at protestors. Occupants of several cars booed and one shouted “White power!”
On Sunday, the day after Trump issued an executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Nunes, R-Tulare declared his support for Trump’s order, which he said was needed to reduce threats to the nation’s security.
“In light of attempts by jihadist groups to infiltrate fighters into refugee flows to the West, along with Europe’s tragic experience coping with this problem, the Trump administration’s executive order on refugees is a common-sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland,” said Nunes, who served as a member of the executive committee of Trump’s transition team before the swearing-in.
Protest organizers Andrea Cortès and Luis Ojeda agreed that the energy of the event was different from other local anti-Trump protests due to the location.
“Most people don’t want to protest in Clovis,” said Ojeda. He explained that because Clovis is primarily white that residents might not agree with protesters being there.
An employee who shares the building with Nunes came out to ask Ojeda if he could tell the crowd to quiet down. Ojeda said the man was a therapist and had a session going on. Although Ojeda understood why the man wanted them to be quiet, he said he told him that he will not tell participants to be silent as long as Trump is president.
Cortès echoed the thought: “If we stay quiet nothing is going to change.”
She said she is disappointed in Nunes and feels he is not representing the majority.
“Sixty percent of his constituents are minorities, yet he’s not representing his constituents,” she said.
Another employee in the building called a towing company to impound protesters’ vehicles found on the property. A tow truck did show up, but Ojeda told the driver he would tell protesters to move their vehicles.
After a few Trump supporters showed up, they got into a shouting match with some protesters. Ben Bergquam, holding a sign that read “Support Trump,” shouted “No sanctuary cities!” He told protesters he was glad Trump won, which sparked a loud argument. Bergquam, who described himself as an immigrant, said he doesn’t have a problem with Muslims or immigrants. He said what he doesn’t like is people who come in illegally. Bergquam said he supports the ban because it will stop jihadists from coming into the U.S.
“It has to be controlled,” he said.