‘We’re patriots. People love it’: Ralliers dedicate weekends to being heard in Prospect

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By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

PROSPECT — For the 84th time in two years, they gathered again last Sunday, a blue-jean clad group of about 24 people waving their political concerns to the drivers passing by the corner of routes 68 and 69.

Their issues shout from their signs, a walk-through of the past two years of national debate and division.

“Not science” proclaims a sign with a photo of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a Hitler-like mustache drawn in black marker on his face.

This, in bright red letters: “Take our country back.”

There was a nod to the Nov. 8 midterm elections: “Blu Man bad” proclaims blue letters next to a blue image of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. And below that, in red, “Levy 2022,” support for Blumenthal’s Republican challenger, Leora Levy.

Waving blue and black, “Back the Blue. We support law enforcement officers.”

And this: vertical, navy blue, with bold letters, “Trump 2024.”

Most weeks since the 2020 election, these “Trumpers,” residents from across the state, have rallied here. At first, it was entirely about their belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. As time goes on, and the midterm election nears, other concerns of the politically conservative pepper the signs.

“We’re losing our rights and our freedoms. That’s what we’re fighting for,” said Debbie Guisi, who organized the Trump Patriot Freedom Rally in 2020. The first was held the first Sunday after the presidential election.

Guisi, of Prospect, called Mayor Robert J. Chatfield the morning after the election to inform him she was going to start a rally on the corner. She called to see if she needed a permit, which she did not.

There have been no official findings that the 2020 presidential election results were fraudulent. But response from Trump supporters for the rally has been strong, at one point drawing 68 people, Guisi said. They have come from all over Connecticut and at least one from Suffield, near the Massachusetts border.

Karen Kupec, of Bristol, rallies in front of Prospect Town Hall at 36 Center St. on Sunday, Oct. 23. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

“We’re a peaceful group,” Guisi said. “We’re patriots. People love it.”

During a July 3 rally, at the corner in sight of Prospect Town Hall, a steady stream of motorists honked their horns as they drove past the group and their dozens of American and Trump flags. People who drop by are 90% positive, even bringing coffee and doughnuts. Some people have swore vulgarities and thrown frozen water bottles and coins, Guisi said. One person threw eggs at a German shepherd, the pet of a rally participant, she said. During one rally, a passerby made verbal threats, forcing a call to the police.

“You don’t have to like the orange hair guy but why are you giving me the middle finger when I’m holding the American flag?” said Rich Massetti of Southington, at the July 3 event. “Which part of that American flag bothers you?”

Bad weather on a few winter weeks canceled the rally, but recently, with midterms in two weeks that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate and House, it has taken on fresh urgency.

Their issues have expanded into COVID-19 vaccine mandates, censorship, and critical race theory, Guisi said. Other participants mentioned the southern border, inflation and product shortages in the supply chain.

No one is allowed to attend if they want to be offensive or vulgar against President Joe Biden, Guisi said.

Steve and Debbie Skystimas of Waterbury came upon the rally July 3 after they saw all the flags.

“Unfortunately, because of the cancel culture today that we’re all very well aware of, you don’t see this too often,” Steve Skystimas said. “So many people are afraid to just stand up for their rights and for America.”

“We wanted to encourage them and we just love what they’re doing because we’re for President Trump,” Debbie Skystimas said. “It’s sad that he’s not the president anymore.”

Guisi said she plans to rally until Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, or another similar-valued Republican is in the Oval Office.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, in 2020, 59.3% of Connecticut voters chose President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and 39.2% selected Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Prospect Rallying Organizer Debbie Guisi, right, waves at drivers as she rallies with Sharon Cote, of East Haven, in front of Prospect Town Hall at 36 Center St. on Sunday, Oct. 23. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

Frank Maynard of Glastonbury said the nation is going completely in the wrong direction.

“This is just one way that I feel I’m doing something to resist and reject that because I absolutely reject that,” Maynard said at the rally last Sunday. “America as a whole, I think is fed up with this nonsense. All of it, that’s why I come.”

Marie Bell of Meriden said the issue is bigger than just Trump.

“It’s not about Trump. It’s about your country and your Constitution. That’s really what it comes down to,” Bell said. “Learn the Constitution and the backbone of that Constitution. That’s what’s at stake, our Constitution, for everybody, not just pro-Trumpers. It’s for everybody and freedom comes with a responsibility.”

“We’re God-fearing, loving patriots who are out here standing up for your rights and your freedoms. We’re against tyranny,” Guisi said. “We’re here because we love our country.”