© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

On Calle Ocho, Trump supporters decry guilty verdicts against former president

A woman wearing Trump merchandise and a Trump pin hold a flag that says "Trump 2024".
Anita Li
Maribel Gonzalez said that Trump will improve the economy and increase border safety.

Just hours after a New York jury found Donald Trump guilty on nearly three dozen felony charges, supporters of the former president gathered along Miami's Calle Ocho in front of the iconic Cuban restaurant Versailles.

“Everyone’s against this decision because they feel like liberty has died in this country. Today with what they did to Trump, they could do to any of us.” said Maribel Gonzalez, a stay-at-home mom, as motorists late Thursday afternoon in passing cars honked and gave them a thumbs up.

Gonzalez, donning a “MAGA” t-shirt and Trump cap, enthusiastically waved her “Trump 2024” flag.

“It’s a political persecution,” said Gonzalez, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. “It’s the same thing that’s happening in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, where they persecute the opposition.”

READ MORE: Café Con DeSantis: Hundreds Rally Outside Versailles For Last-Minute Campaign Stop

Trump became the first former American president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” an angry Trump told reporters after leaving the courtroom. “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people. They know what happened, and everyone knows what happened here.”

On Calle Ocho on Thursday, many protesters, including Gonzalez, are part of "Vigilia Mambisa," a conservative Cuban exile group that’s organized protests in Miami in the past.

Miguel Saavedra, who is president of Vigilia Mambisa and originally from Cuba, said Trump's trial was "political" and was meant to "hold Trump back in the campaign.”

A man wears a white t-shirt that says "Vigilia Mambisa" and blue jeans.
Anita Li
Miguel Saavedra stands in front of the Versailles sign, as demonstrators around him wave flags. His group, Vigilia Mambisa has supported protests in Cuba, and protested against the presidency of Barack Obama.

Saavedra and Gonzalez falsely claim the 2020 election results were fraudulent.

The Trump campaign and its backers pursued numerous legal challenges to the election in court and alleged a variety of voter fraud and misconduct. The cases were heard and roundly rejected by dozens of courts at both state and federal levels, including by judges whom Trump appointed.

On Friday, Trump sought to move past his historic criminal conviction and build momentum for his bid to return to the White House with fierce attacks on the judge who oversaw the case, the prosecution’s star witness and the criminal justice system as a whole.

Speaking from his namesake tower in Manhattan in a symbolic return to the campaign trail, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee delivered a message aimed squarely at his most loyal supporters. Defiant as ever, he insisted without evidence that the verdict was “rigged” and driven by politics.

“We’re going to fight," Trump said from the atrium of Trump Tower, where he had descended his golden escalator to announce his 2016 campaign nine years ago next month. It was that campaign that led to the charges that made Trump the first former president and presumptive major party nominee in the nation’s history to be convicted of a crime.

While the guilty verdict has energized Trump’s base, fueling millions of dollars in new campaign contributions, it’s unclear how the conviction and his rambling response will resonate with the kinds of voters who are likely to decide what is expected to be an extremely close November election. They include suburban women, independents, and voters turned off by both candidates who remain on the fence.

Trump cast himself as a martyr, suggesting that if this could happen to him, “They can do this to anyone.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Anita Li is a Spring and Summer 2024 intern for WLRN. She is about to enter her last year at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she studies journalism.
More On This Topic