Niles residents host rally to support police, President Trump

NILES — Saturday, under an overcast sky, between 25 and 35 Niles residents gathered in the green space on the corner of Main and S. 11th streets. The sidewalks were lined with blue and red signs reading “Back the blue,” “Trump 2020” or “Four more years.”

As cars drove by, many honked in support of the Niles residents who stood waving American flags and signs.

Eventually, the event’s organizer, Tim Mervine, 65, of Niles, took a megaphone into his hands to thank those who came out to support the rally and begin a cheer.

“Four more years,” Mervine said, as the crowd responded to him. “Four more years.”

Saturday, a group of Niles residents hosted a rally in support of the reelection of President Donald Trump and police officers around the country. Also present at the rally were representatives with Unlock Michigan, a petition aimed toward ending COVID-19 related executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Donations were collected at the event, which Mervine hopes to use to replace the flags flying behind the Welcome to Niles sign at the Main and S. 11th streets. If the flags cannot be replaced, he said the money raised would be donated to an area veterans’ charity.

“We just wanted to do something for President Trump,” Mervine, a U.S. Army veteran, said of why he decided to organize the rally. “We also want [the police] to know we stand behind them — no defunding. We love our president, and we are going to back our president for four more years. We want to live. We don’t want to what is happening in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere. We don’t want that in our country, so we have to have Trump back.”

Those who attended the rally said they had various reasons for doing so. Some came to support the police, a group rally-goers said had been under attack as of late. Others said they came to oppose the lockdown restrictions placed on the state of Michigan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all in attendance said they came to show support for President Trump and planned to vote for him in the November election.

“Most of us can’t get to a Trump rally, so this is the easiest way to show support,” said Dennis Kuemin, 70, of Niles, as he held up a sign reading “back the blue.”

Kuemin said he wanted to show Niles police support, support the reelection of Trump, and oppose COVID-19 restrictions, which he said have hurt the local economy.

“I’m tired of the crap that is going on in our country, and it’s time to stand up,” added Eric Robb, 46, of Niles, referring to COVID-19 restrictions. “The silent majority will not be silent anymore. If they want a civil war, they will have it. … We’ve had enough.”

Ron Jelinek, who served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002 and the Senate from 2003 to 2010, spoke to the crowd, encouraging Niles residents to vote and go door to door to encourage their neighbors to vote for Trump in the November election.

“We are in a very, very dangerous situation today. If you haven’t watched Fox News, you don’t know what is going on. You have to know who is our friend and who isn’t,” he said. “You have to get this going. Donald Trump is the man who has taken care of us for four years under duress the whole time. … You have to get the word out. That’s the most important thing you can do.”

Before the rally dispersed due to rainy conditions, Mervine said he was happy with the rally’s turnout. While some people dissented to the rally, he said he primarily saw support from the Niles community. He said he believed the rally was about coming together as a community.

“All lives matter. Everybody matters,” he said. “There is a division that is being pushed, and it’s gotta stop. If this country is going to work, we all have to come together. This is all about showing support for our country and our president.”

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