I didn’t know there was a phrase for it. “Rolling coal” is what the Trump flag waving pick-ups did to myself and my fellow brave protesters from the Pickaway County Progressives at our Court and Main “Honk for Justice” weekly events, coating us with black diesel fumes that make us cough and choke, our eyes water. These “Trump Train” pick-ups circled the block repeatedly, “rolling coal” on us and screaming the “N-word” and “baby killers” while giving us “the finger”. We had threats of violence. At our Trump counter-protest near the fairgrounds, we suffered actual assault and battery. I do thank Anthony Chamberlain, Safety Director, administrative assistant Kim Hunter, Officer Uhrig and the entire Circleville Police Department for granting us permits and looking out for our safety. To this writer, a former Cleveland EMS street medic, and thus intimately bloodied with the after-effects of violence, the phrase “Defund the Police” never made sense.
As an aging Yippie I shared 1960’s protest and MoTown tunes on the boombox with my young Generation Z progressives at Court and Main. I am hopeful in that Gen Z is tolerant of diversity, and most attuned to issues of social and economic justice. Martin Luther King noted “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”. I am optimistic for the future of America, standing here with these “kids”, many of them near my age in 1968. We are not liberal snowflakes, we are tough as steel nails justice warriors. We listened to Dylan’s “The Times They Are A ‘Changing”, the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” while the “Trump Train” circles.
It gets particularly ugly. Concern shows on our faces. We know what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin when a vigilante shot and killed protesters, we know our fellow “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators across the nation have been run over, attacked and beaten by Trump supporters, urged on as they were by violent Trump rhetoric. We are here at Court and Main because we have to be, because we must take a stand. I am here as an emergency physician who believes everyone deserves good health care and that no one should die for the crime of being Black. We have it easy, facing verbal abuse and threats and “rolling coal” when compared with what John Lewis and so many civil rights marchers suffered on the Edmund Pettus bridge and all across the South during the civil rights years. It gets uglier, seems the “Trump Train” is getting more aggressive, their right turns cut so tight we back up for our safety to avoid being hit with side mounted rear view mirrors. We can see the aggression on their faces.
I turn up the boombox to the maximum. Martha and the Vandellas belt out their 1964 Motown tune “ Dancing in the Streets” I urge my readers to watch/listen to the Youtube recording . I say to my fellows “Look at their faces, look at how miserable they are! We are here dancing to great tunes!” We dance, and dance some more, holding our signs with one hand. Our line holds. A small victory for justice here in Circleville.
I read the Business Insider article of today “ MAGA mean kids want you to be nice to them about Trump losing”. I am not so quick to forgive. Reality tells me that we must live in America together and that these “Trump Train” drivers are scared, they are fighting for an America that exists no more. Scared folks are dangerous. There is a place in my America for rural, white, evangelical working Americans. They need to feel safe as well as African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, women need to feel safe. Trump supporters also need the safety and security of Medicare for All and free college and trade school tuition and a future with climate change controlled. There is a place for those who felt driven to threaten us with rolling coal “Trump Trains” at “Honk for Justice”. There is a place yes, but not a place where they dictate the terms. I will respect their feelings. Just not yet.
Brad Cotton submitted this column to The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.