LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — About 100 “Trump Train” drivers clashed with several protesters at Eastern High School on Sunday before caravanning to the Kentucky Exposition Center for a rally in support of President Donald Trump.
The protesters, who were upset the group was allowed to use school property, attempted to block vehicles from leaving the parking lot with their cars.
Middletown Police officers were at the scene and arrested one protester during the confrontation, department Chief Robert Herman confirmed.
Trump supporters eventually drove over a curb and across the school's lawn to get to the road before driving to the fairgrounds, where about 1,000 people gathered for a rally after caravanning from cities around the state.
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As protesters attempted to block the vehicles, one man from the caravan took out a gun and carried it in front of him while ushering drivers to the road. Some protesters also had firearms.
Jefferson County Public Schools had attempted to contact the caravan's coordinators ahead of the event but were unable to get in touch, district spokeswoman Renee Murphy said.
“If someone wants to have an event at our property, we have a process in which they can request to use the campus,” Murphy said. “In this case, we were not notified by anyone, and they did not reach out to us for any kind of approval."
When asked if the caravan gathering on school property was considered trespassing, Murphy said the district remains in contact with police.
JCPS board member James Craig, who represents Eastern High School’s district, criticized the event for meeting on the school’s property.
“Staging a rally at a public high school to honor such an evil human being is beyond the pale,” Craig wrote on Twitter. “Trump harms each of the students that attend that school every day he is in power. We did not sanction this event before hand. These people are trespassers. Leave.”
Herman said JCPS security notified police last week about the caravan’s plans to use Eastern High School as a starting point for the "Trump Train."
“They were concerned about it because they don’t necessarily allow that type of activity to occur on their property,” Herman said.
The caravan, which included vehicles decked out in "Make America Great Again" signs and American flags, started to leave the school’s parking lot at about 2 p.m.
Police officers at the school Sunday tried to negotiate with the protesters, but they refused to move their vehicles away from the parking lot entrance, Herman said.
Officers notified JCPS school board security, who told police if the drivers in the caravan had to drive up on the grass to exit the school property then “so be it,” Herman said.
One woman was arrested after police say she had attempted to block vehicles and ripped some of the banners from the vehicles.
“She was told several times to not be in the roadway, not to obstruct traffic, and refused,” Herman said. “So she was arrested on that.”
Herman said the arrest was the only confrontation between his officers and people on either side.
Mariana Lane, an Eastern High School graduate, said she was upset the school was allowing the caravan on its property and tried to contact the school but didn't get a response.
"Public schools are not allowed to affiliate themselves with a political party," Lane said. "So once we were told about that, we decided to come and make it seen."
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Lane, 23, kept her car at the school's entrance for an hour while the caravan exited the property. She said she knew of other protesters who were at the Exposition Center as well.
Kim Bateman, who organized the caravans in Kentucky, said she hoped the "Trump Train" showed Trump supporters they aren't alone.
“Everything’s made to make us feel like we’re in the wrong, we’re alone, we shouldn’t be able to support our president, support our police officers, and that’s not right,” Bateman said.
Tammy Sears, who recently moved to Louisville, said the biggest thing she thinks the caravan does is “provide a visible example of how many people in this country truly do believe Trump is sending us in the right direction.”
“He is the promise keeper,” Sears said. “When he says it, he means it. He’s not going to back away from a fight. … He’s doing exactly what we put him there to do four years ago, and he’s going to do it again.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville protesters try to block in 'Trump Train' ahead of rally