Floyd County Democrats abruptly canceled plans Sunday to rally for Joe Biden in downtown Rome ahead of President Donald Trump’s event, after an organizer said there were safety concerns over a “large militia presence” drawn to the Republican’s visit.
Ruth Demeter, the local party’s chairwoman, said in a statement on its website that the event was canceled “out of an abundance of concern for the health and safety of our citizens.”
“We have been informed that a large militia presence is expected in Rome today due to Trump’s visit,” she said, hours before Trump’s arrival. “Additionally, we are not able to secure police presence for our event because of the airport rally.”
Instead, the Democratic Party of Georgia moved the event to Zoom where local Democrats talked about what they considered the dangers of another Trump term in office, especially in light of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.
Rome City Councilwoman Wendy Davis invoked a recent Stanford University study that estimated Trump campaign events were responsible for more than 700 COVID-19 deaths.
She said Rome City Schools recently transitioned to virtual learning because of an increase in cases locally, and she called Trump’s decision to rally irresponsible since his events usually draw large crowds with little social distancing and few masks.
“We can’t take another reckless Trump visit or another four years of his administration’s failures,” she said.
Rome resident Jessie Reed spoke about her family’s struggles with multiple cases of COVID that affected several members of her family, most severely her husband. He is a “long hauler” who has spent three months experiencing fatigue and other symptoms.
“He has gone from completely healthy to unable to function,” she said.