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Trump supporters turn out en masse in Riverhead to join ‘MAGA Gras II’

Blaring car horns resonated along Route 58 in Riverhead Sunday as a parade of Trump supporters drove past the former Walmart, where hundreds of local residents gathered to cheer and join.

As some people lined the street waving Trump and American flags, others drove out of the parking lot to follow the caravan, which originated in East Northport.

The caravan, dubbed MAGA-Gras II, continued to Greenport, where it was met by a group of Biden supporters in addition to more Trump supporters.

The caravan brought traffic to a standstill at times on both Route 58 and Main Road in Southold Town. Riverhead Town police directed traffic at the exit to the parking lot as cars left to join the caravan.

“People were tired of being home, tired of being told what you could and couldn’t do regarding gatherings,” organizer Shawn Farash of West Babylon said in an interview prior to Sunday’s event. “Then we see people labeling violent protests as peaceful protests, so we thought we’re gonna have a peaceful protest ourselves. We’re showing people what it really means to support your First Amendment right.”

In Greenport, supporters of the president lined the south side of Front Street, clustered around Mitchell Park, while protesters lined the north side of the street a hundred yards to the west by Third Street.

A Trump supporter waiting for the caravan, Sandra Benedetto, of Greenport, said, “We will not be silent. We will not go away. We have a different point of view, and we want to be respected for that. We want this to be a peaceful event.”

By 12:30, dozens of Biden supporters lined the north side of Front Street. “We want this to be peaceful, but we want to be heard and we want to be present,” said Peter LeVasseur of Sayville. “I am very worried about the direction of this country. I am pro environment and pro immigration.”

On the Biden side, the signs were everywhere, from “200,000 lives matter,” about the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, to others that called into question the president’s morals. One sign read, “Trump lied – 200,000 died.”

As everyone waited on the caravan’s arrival, Liz Guerra, of East Marion, handed out leaflets urging people to be silent as the caravan went by.

While he waited by Mitchell Park, Trump supporter Ryan Sperl, of Greenport, said, “I heard about the rally, and I wanted to be here. My two big issues are immigration and socialism. I grew up in California near the Mexican border. We have to do something about immigration.”

At one point mid-afternoon, a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters began shouting at Trump supporters on the opposite side of the street. The ‘f’ word hurled out of a car of other Black Lives Matters supporters as they drove past the Trump crowd.