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‘Trumptilla’: Supporters hold boat rallies for US President Trump




The story of summer, 2020 in the United States is one of cancelled plans, pent up energy and existential angst. Whether they think COVID-19 is a threat or not, Americans have been forced to reshape their lives in the face of a pandemic that many of our leaders had said would be over by now. 

Inescapably, 2020 is also an election year, and this summer has seen an explosion of political expression.

Left-leaning cities have erupted in protests and uprisings, with tens of thousands outraged over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the broader issue of racial injustice in the US. 

But what of the others, many of whom live in rural areas and support Donald Trump’s re-election bid? 

Enter the “Trumptilla”. 

This summer, all over the country, seafaring supporters of President Donald Trump have taken to the water, staging enormous flotilla boat rallies. 

The origin can be traced back to a simple act of defiance in early May, when a Jupiter, Florida resident was banned by the management of his gated community from flying a “MAGA” flag off the end of his dock, referring to Trump’s 2016 election slogan: “Make America Great Again.”

Trump flotilla

Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered in Brewerton, New York and took to the water to display their loyalty to the US president [Adam Muro/Al Jazeera]

In response, he covered his boat in Trump decals, and when word got out, so-called “Trumptillas” began popping up everywhere, spreading from Florida to North Carolina, Arizona and, most recently, to New York state.

A “MAGA boater” even showed up for the splashdown of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship on Sunday, August 2, making an appearance on NASA’s live stream of the event.

“Boating is American. The communists shut everything else down, but they haven’t been able to shut this down,” explained David Kolakowski that same day on upstate New York’s Oneida Lake.

“At first we supported the [COVID-19] shutdown, but after that, it’s a lie to hurt the economy because they’re doing everything they can to hurt Trump, so we came out to show support,” he said.  

‘I love that he puts America first’

The event’s 23-year-old organiser, Tyler was inspired by a July Fourth rally in South Carolina, which drew a reported 3,400 boats, making it a potential Guinness World Records holder for the largest boat parade.

“I saw the [rally] on Lake Norman and thought ‘That would be pretty cool,'” he said.

Tyler did not want his last name used for fear of reprisal against his family’s businesses by anti-Trump community members. He said he has already received negative feedback.

“I got one [Facebook] message, they told me I was a racist and homophobic. I’m like, my girlfriend is Chinese and my twin-brother is gay,” he said. 

Fear of Trump haters was a concern for some who gathered at the waterfront Pier in Brewerton, New York on Sunday. 

Hundreds of yachts, pontoon boats, speed boats and small aluminium fishing boats decked out in “Trump 2020” flags with colourful slogans like “no more bullsh*t” and “f**k your feelings” floated back and forth on the water, getting ready to head out.

Onlookers sported custom “Oneida Lake Flotilla 2020” T-shirts and face masks, and by 10am were already cracking Twisted Teas and Michelob Ultras.

Trump flotilla

“MAGA boaters” rally for President Donald Trump while parked at Three Mile Bay on Oneida Lake in upstate New York [Adam Muro/Al Jazeera]

Shane Mennig was piloting a supercharged Yamaha jet ski, flying a Trump flag, an American flag and a “thin blue line” flag. The latter has become controversial – for nearly a century a symbol to represent law enforcement, in recent years it has also been flown by white supremacists.

Mennig, in his first year as a boater, bought two jet skis with his girlfriend Alisha McLaughlin in November. “I never owned a Trump flag until this, I ordered one online to be ready,” he said.

He is also a relative newcomer to politics and said he never really paid attention before Trump came on the scene. “I love that he puts America first,” he said. 

Asked about the “thin blue line” flag, he said lots of his buddies are sheriff’s deputies. 

“They’re pretty pro-Trump around here,” said Tyler, referring to the local Oswego and Onondaga county sheriff’s departments. “They called me and asked what I was doing it [the rally] for, and I said if it’s gonna be a problem just call it a protest, can’t stop us then,” he joked.

He said he was easily granted a permit for the flotilla.

As the boats left Brewerton, uniformed deputies smiled and waved from a county sheriff boat flying a large MAGA flag, and the boaters cheered back and shouted, “Thank you.”

‘Everyone’s six feet apart’

In Three Mile Bay, a shallow sheltered cove where Oneida Lake boaters often go to throw anchor and hang out, another contingent of MAGA boaters that launched from Sylvan Beach, on the other side of the lake, had already started the party. 

Country music blared from sound systems, people fired up grills and started tossing footballs.

“Absolutely, it’s safe! Look how far away everyone is, everyone’s six feet apart,” yelled David Kolakowski from his aluminium fishing boat, when asked if he thought this was a safe event in light of the pandemic. 

The scene resembled something similar to outdoor dining you might see on the streets of Manhattan: Friends and family clustered in pockets, parked up in disparate areas without much intermingling going on. Though no one was wearing a mask, the boaters kept their distance from one another for the most part.

The lake straddles Onondaga and Oswego counties, which have seen a combined 203 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Trump flotilla

Uniformed Oswego County Sheriff’s deputies escort and cheer on a pro-Trump boat rally, flying a large ‘MAGA’ flag in Brewerton, New York [Adam Muro/Al Jazeera]

“Most people stay in their group, they don’t really wander,” said Tyler. “Trump can’t have a rally because of the whole COVID thing, so I imagine people just wanted to come out, have a good time and support the president.”

Though only a few miles from the more diverse city of Syracuse, NY, the rally itself was overwhelmingly white. John, who asked to be identified by his first name only, is Hispanic and an avid boater. He says his politics lean conservative but is by no means a Trump supporter, and came out to Three Mile Bay to spend the day with his family, not knowing the flotilla would be showing up. 

“Everyone’s been really nice so far,” he said, in the middle of a game of Polish Horseshoes, where two teams throw a frisbee at each other trying to knock a bottle off a pedestal. “Hey, they’re just out here supporting what they like. What’s wrong with that?”

Trump flotilla

Onlookers watch as ‘MAGA boaters’ prepare to embark on their pro-Trump boat rally in Brewerton, New York [Adam Muro/Al Jazeera]

As the day dragged on and the hot sun took its toll, the boaters began to depart.

“We’re totally hooked,” said Shawn Bartlett, a corrections sergeant with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, who had a day off. “It’s great to get all the supporters together and show him [Trump] that the silent majority is out there. Don’t follow the polls.”

“‘Wow!’ is all I have to say. Incredible turnout,” said Tyler. He’s already planning the next one for Labor Day holiday weekend on September 5-7, and hopes to get an even higher turnout.

“Maybe one day, I’ll get flown to the White House,” he said, with a chuckle. “I think that’d be pretty cool.”

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Armenian Aggression

South wind to blow in Baku




By Laman Ismayilova

Changeable cloudy is expected in Baku on May 4. Mild south wind will blow. Rain is expected in some places in the second half of the day.

The temperature will be +11-13 °C at night, +18-21°C in the daytime on Absheron peninsula, the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry reported.

In Baku, the temperature will be +11-13 °C at night, +18-20 °C in the daytime.

Atmospheric pressure will be 763 mm Hg. Relative humidity will make up 70-80 percent at night and 50-55 percent in the daytime.

Hail and rain are expected in the country's regions. It will be foggy in the morning. East wind will blow.

The temperature will be +10-14 °C at night and +20-25 °C in the daytime. In the mountains, the temperature will be +3-8 °C at night, +10-15 °C in the daytime.

The temperature in the Absheron Peninsula is expected to be close to normal. The day is expected to be favorable for weather-sensitive people.

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Armenian Aggression

Not calling released soldiers as “POWs” by OSCE Minsk Group – outrageous – Armenian media




By Trend

People in Armenia are outraged by the absence of the term ‘prisoner of war’ in the latest statement of the OSCE Minsk Group, Trend reports on May 6 referring to the Armenian media.

"I hope the Armenian government representatives will explain why the term ‘prisoner of war (POW)’ is absent in the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, and the Armenian prisoners of war held in Azerbaijan are called only detainees," political expert Knyaz Saroyan said.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Igor Popov from the Russian Federation, Stefan Visconti from France, and Andrew Shofer from the US) welcomed the release of the Armenian detainees – Robert Vardanyan, Samvel Shukhyan, and Seran Tamrazyan by Azerbaijan.

The Co-Chairs have previously called on the parties to share all the data necessary for effective demining and to take concrete steps to create an atmosphere of mutual trust conducive to the establishment of lasting peace by solving problems.

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Armenian Aggression

Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan fluctuate




By Trend

The prices of precious metals varied in Azerbaijan on May 6 compared to the previous price, Trend reports referring to the data published by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA).

The price of gold increased by 10.8885 manat or $6.405 (0.36 percent) and made up 3,040.314 manat or $1,788.42 per ounce.

The price of silver decreased by 0.1155 manat or 0.06 cents (0.26 percent) and amounted to 45.0258 manat ($26.48).

The price of platinum decreased by 25.721 manat or $15.13 (1.22 percent) and equaled 2,082.143 manat ($1,224.79).

The price of palladium decreased by 40.596 manat or $23.88 (0.8 percent) and stood at 5,056.446 manat ($2,974.38).

In monthly terms, the price of gold grew by 92.514 manat or $54.42 (3.1 percent) per ounce, silver increased by 2.6844 manat or $1.57 (6.3 percent) per ounce, platinum decreased by 23.613 manat or $13.89 (1.1 percent) per ounce, while palladium increased by 541.4075 manat or $318.475 (12 percent).

On an annualized basis, the price of gold rose by 145.2565 manat or $85.445 (5 percent), silver grew by 19.4291 manat or $11.42 (75.9 percent), platinum increased by 776.6875 manat or $456.875 (59.5 percent) and palladium increased by 1,966.9595 manat or $1,157.035 (63.7 percent).










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