A couple of hundred protesters converged Friday outside the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Boeing's campus. In between chants of "Dump Trump!" and "Impeach!" they demanded an independent investigation of his administration's alleged ties with Russia.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Performing Arts Center, a much smaller counter-protest formed in support of Trump.
Katie Preston, the 38-year-old co-founder of Indivisible Charleston, a local chapter of a national movement to resist Trump's agenda, organized Friday's rally. This was her first foray into political activism, she said, motivated by children and her fear for their future.
"I woke up on Nov. 9 and went into crisis mode," Preston said. "I went up to my husband and was like, 'Is this freaking real?' It wouldn't sink in. And I've kind of felt that way ever since."
"It's gotten worse," her husband, Joe Preston, added. He pointed to Trump's erratic press conference on Thursday, in which the president ranted against the press for reporting on leaks from his own administration. "It had shades of Nixon."
Stan Boyd, 75, a musician and retired carpenter, made the journey from Beaufort to North Charleston Friday morning. On his head he wore a backward baseball cap — Hillary Clinton's smiling visage pinned to the bill — and in his hands he held a sign reading, "Show us your taxes" in capital letters. Below, Boyd had written: "Unfit to lead us".
"The guy's not stable, you know?" Boyd said. "And I'm not saying that to attack him personally. That'd be something I have compassion for, which I do. I have compassion for him as a human being."
Then he lowered his voice.
"But not in that spot."
As Air Force One crossed the sky, the protesters looked up, turned toward the president's plane and booed.
Behind the Performing Arts Center, a counter-protest had begun to disperse. By noon, only two men — Keith Manning, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, and John Edgar, a Navy veteran and retired mechanic — were standing in the parking lot with American flags hitched to the back of their vehicles. In the morning, between 20 and 25 folks gathered here for a short prayer to oppose "all the negativity," as Manning put it, happening on the other side.
"I think that was really the message," Manning said, of his counter-demonstration, "to spread more love and less division."