Several conservative, pro-Trump groups gathered outside the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, on Saturday, protesting the restaurant for asking White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave last week. It was the same day that organizers nationwide held protests against the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. Sanders’s defense of the policy, which has ripped migrant children away from their parents, was one of the reasons the Red Hen’s owner and staff wanted her out.
CBS-affiliate WDBJ reports that hundreds of people showed up, including Bikers for Trump, an actual group. One member of the group, Douglas Thompson, tells the station that “the message is to start showing a little respect for the President of the United States.” Signs seen in photographs of the protest read, “We Shall Overcome … Democrats!” and “The Red Hen Laid a Rotten Egg.” In one photograph, a man is seen standing by himself holding signs that read, “Homos Are Full of Demons” and “Unless They REPENT LGBT: Let God Burn Them 2 Peter 2:6.
The protest attracted at least one significant Virginia figure in Corey Stewart, the Republican running against Virginia senator Tim Kaine. In late June, CNN reported on footage that showed Stewart endorsing the virulent anti-Semitic congressional candidate Paul Nehlen months after Nehlen tweeted white-nationalist content. Speaking with the Washington Post, Stewart disavowed Nehlen, saying his praise was before Nehlen started saying bigoted and anti-Semitic things. Stewart spoke at the rally on Saturday, telling WDBJ, “The left of this country has gotten so crazy. Tim Kaine and the Democrats, they’re upset with the President and the fact that he’s been so successful.”