EASTHAM — Two groups convened at the Windmill Green here on Monday, June 14. The larger crowd, some 30 people arrayed along Route 6, said they were members of the United Cape Patriots, and were there to celebrate Flag Day as well as Donald Trump’s 75th birthday.
According to its website, the United Cape Patriots (UCP) is a “grassroots conservative movement” of people who “adhere to the constitution as originally intended.” In the past year, their efforts have mostly been focused on ending mask requirements, which they describe as “hysteria” and “tyranny.” According to UCP, it has 1,288 members.
At the same time, about 10 members of Indivisible Outer Cape, a branch of the national Indivisible organization that was founded shortly after the 2016 election, gathered nearby. A utility pole divided the two groups; zip-tied to it was a rainbow flag superimposed with the word “peace.”
At one point, members of UCP sang “Happy Birthday” to Trump. Along a small stretch of highway, they put up lawn signs with an illustration of Trump’s face and a cake with candles. Two women, one in a skimmer hat and one dressed up in colonial attire, stood on the fringes of the group with a “Happy Flag Day” sign. There were, in fact, a handful of American flags present. But mostly, there were Trump flags.
“I’d do anything for Trump,” said Debbie Asitle, a retired police officer from Fall River. “I love him. Do I think he’s coming back? Absolutely. He’s definitely going to be president in 2024.”
Four teenage boys drove by in a Toyota Corolla playing the rap song “FDT” by YG (which has a crude message for the former president). Paused at the red light at Samoset Road, they accepted a flyer through the passenger window from Laurie Veninger, the leader of Indivisible Outer Cape. “Call your senators,” Veninger told them.
Indivisible Outer Cape was there not just to counter-protest but to promote the passage of “S.1 For the People Act,” a bill that passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate, but whose prospects dimmed a week earlier, when Sen. Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, announced he would not support it. All 50 Republican senators are expected to vote against it.
The bill aims to end voter suppression by limiting gerrymandering, having all states provide automatic voter registration, ensuring access to voting by mail and early voting, and restoring voting rights to citizens convicted of a crime. The League of Women Voters has endorsed the bill, saying it will strengthen democracy.
Both groups gathered on Monday were mostly female. “Most of my regional leaders are women, and I have a theory about that,” said Adam Lange, the founder of UCP. “Women are much more grounded in making community difference.”
Lange said he fears what he sees as “the spread of socialism” in America. He said he is frustrated with the Republican Party for leaving behind conservative Americans. He believes that politicians in Washington, D.C. are intentionally trying to divide Americans. They are, he said, “a bunch of swamp creatures.”
Holding a bamboo pole with a “Make America Great Again” flag and a “thin blue line” flag attached to it, Lange said Donald Trump was one of the only politicians who understands that Americans need to unite. “We all just need to respect each other,” he said.
The black and white flag with one blue stripe is controversial. It has been used to express support for the police but has also been flown by white supremacists, notably at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017, according to the Marshall Project, a nonpartisan news organization focused on criminal justice.
When asked about Trump’s disparaging comments about different groups of Americans, Lange responded that “that’s just his personality.”
Jennifer Raffloer, who said she lives in Wellfleet, oversees the UCP’s efforts on the Outer Cape. She described the UCP as a community organization that adopts segments of the highway and cleans up beaches. When asked if there was anything she wanted Independent readers to know, Raffloer said, “We’re not a hate group.”
Behind Raffloer as she spoke was what appeared to be a large military vehicle with “United Cape Patriots” emblazoned on its doors. Sticking out from the roof was a machine gun, pointed out at the highway.
Throughout the protest, people driving by honked and rolled down their windows to wave. At one point, a Jeep drove by and a young blonde woman holding an American flag stuck her head out the sunroof and took a selfie. The United Cape Patriots cheered her on.
“For such a liberal part of the state,” said UCP member and Swansea resident Dennis Michaud, “we sure are getting a lot of thumbs-ups.”