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DeSantis Miami event draws protests and attacks from two rivals: Democrats and Trump

The Ron DeSantis donor event at a luxury Miami hotel brought an unwelcome amenity: noisy protesters outside denouncing the Republican presidential candidate.

“All of us against DeSantis,” a row of people sang while snaking through a Brickell Avenue sidewalk across from the Four Seasons Miami, where the Florida governor’s campaign team was launching his fundraising push for the GOP nomination. “Take him down, take him down, take him down.”

READ MORE: It’s official: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis files paperwork for his presidential campaign

The turnout of more than 100 people for the demonstration. offered the first glimpse of what a DeSantis presidential campaign might register in terms of protests. The candidate himself was not inside but is expected in Miami at some point during the two-day celebration involving some of his biggest fundraisers and donors.

“Ron DeSantis is not the state of Florida,” said Ben Braver, 20, a Tampa resident wearing a tie-dye tank top who drove to Miami with a megaphone and a pink guitar for the event. “The state of Florida is about people who want abortion rights, who care about education.”

Protesters against Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies get loud on the sidewalk outside the Four Season Miami on Brickell Avenue on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, while DeSantis supports gather inside for the first official function of his presidential campaign.
Protesters against Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies get loud on the sidewalk outside the Four Season Miami on Brickell Avenue on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, while DeSantis supports gather inside for the first official function of his presidential campaign.

There was little sign of a pro-DeSantis contingent outside the Four Seasons, leaving the streets outside to his foes. Two billboard trucks were circling Brickell — one from the Democratic National Committee with DeSantis attack ads and the other promoting Trump’s 2024 campaign with DeSantis attack ads. A Trump-aligned super PAC, Make America Great Again, said it planned on having a billboard truck at the DeSantis event.

A protester from Indiana waves an anti-Biden flag and wears. a sign that reads, “I WANT REPARATIONS FROM EVERY IDIOT THAT VOTED FOR BIDEN” as a truck playing anti-DeSantis video passes by outside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Brickell business district of Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
A protester from Indiana waves an anti-Biden flag and wears. a sign that reads, “I WANT REPARATIONS FROM EVERY IDIOT THAT VOTED FOR BIDEN” as a truck playing anti-DeSantis video passes by outside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Brickell business district of Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

Trump had a smaller contingent on the ground, too: About a dozen men in Blacks for Trump 2020 shirts held signs with “Ron=Traitor” and other slogans.

Multiple participants said they heard about the event from Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida, an abortion rights group out of Sarasota.

Jenna Balfe, 42, rode her bike from Coconut Grove to join the protest. She wore a flag symbolizing Trans Pride on her hat and cited schools removing books in Florida as one reason she made the trip.

“I think DeSantis is a fascist,” she said. “We’re going backwards.”

Blacks for Trump activist Maurice Symonette thanks City of Miami Police Officers for their service outside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Brickell business district of Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Blacks for Trump activist Maurice Symonette thanks City of Miami Police Officers for their service outside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Brickell business district of Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Protesters against Ron DeSantis march down Brickell Avenue from Brickell Park to The Four Seasons in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Protesters against Ron DeSantis march down Brickell Avenue from Brickell Park to The Four Seasons in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Protesters against Ron DeSantis demonstrate across the street from The Four Seasons in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Protesters against Ron DeSantis demonstrate across the street from The Four Seasons in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Party for Socialism and Liberation representative Craig Birtchfield, 30, speaks to protesters at Brickell Park in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Party for Socialism and Liberation representative Craig Birtchfield, 30, speaks to protesters at Brickell Park in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.