Area Trump supporters cheered and waved signs in support of the outgoing president Saturday morning in Lafayette, protesting an election they say without firm evidence was stolen, even as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take the oath of office Wednesday.

Around 40 men and women of various ages donned ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and waved flags printed with President Donald Trump’s name and homemade signs at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Johnston Street.

The group received an array of responses from passersby during their two-hour rally, from cheers and honks to middle fingers and a woman shouting, “Yay, Joe! Yay, Kamala!” from her window. The rally was tame, the only excitement Lafayette police officers pressing supporters in two vehicles who idled in the road shoulder to move on and a Lafayette Police Department surveillance drone that crashed after striking a power line.

Holly Sanders, the event organizer, said she believes area businesses’ unwillingness to allow protesters to park in their lots depressed turnout. The Ambassador Row shopping center explicitly stated non-shoppers would be towed, and others posted similar signs or had security present to deter parking, she said. Sanders said she was proud of those who came out despite the challenges.

“I don’t like the turnout. I think that the businesses around this area should be ashamed of themselves for being so unpatriotic. They’re losing our business as we speak,” she said.

Sanders said she planned the event before a Jan. 6 Trump rally in Washington D.C. turned into a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol while Congress certified the election results. She said she values Trump’s candid, rough around the edges approach and is still holding out hope he can secure a second term. Sanders said she believes political corruption skewed the election and there’s still an opportunity for evidence to change the result.

“I planned it as a pre-inauguration party, kind of a kick-off to Trump’s inauguration, and after everything went down I continued to hold it because a lot of us still believe in our president….So why cancel it? There’s no reason to cancel it. He’s still in office. There’s still a lot going on behind the scenes and those that are out here supporting him know all that,” Sanders said.

The president and his allies have unsuccessfully filed more than 60 lawsuits claiming widespread voter fraud and electron irregularities since November. None have substantiated their claims. President-elect Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated Wednesday.

“I do believe that Joe Biden will be sworn in. But we should not be silenced. It’s important for us to still be here,” said Joel Ferreyros of Broussard.

James Magby, a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War, said he fought against communism and believes Democratic leadership will root the country in the ideology, leading to the fall of the United States. Magby said he doesn’t believe Biden’s transition will lead to violence, but he’s willing to arm himself “against any enemy foreign or domestic” if Trump calls for it and “die for my country,” but didn’t further elaborate.

“I believe that the elections were stolen and if we don’t have freedom in America we don’t have America,” the Navy veteran said.


Email Katie Gagliano at kgagliano@theadvocate.com