A Sweetwater Union High School District board member protesting President Donald Trump at a building trade conference in Washington D.C. was escorted out of the same room as the president and questioned by Secret Service.
Nick Segura, business manager for the San Diego chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, attended the annual National Building Trade conference last week where trade unions discussed political issues and polices that could affect them under the current administration.
Days into the weeklong conference, labor and trade unions were advised that President Donald Trump was going to address the more than 200 labor leaders at the conference.
Knowing Trump was going to be in the same room as these union leaders, Segura said Sean McGarvey, national president for the building trade, told union members to be on their best behavior, which Segura said he took to mean to just sit and listen to the commander-in-chief.
But Segura, who represents Trustee Area 4 on the Sweetwater district school board, said he could not just sit there and not be vocal about a president who does not share his values.
“I can’t ignore the fact that this guy is a racist, misogynist and just a lot of hate on many things not against my values,” Segura said.
The leadership of San Diego Building Trade Council and the IBEW 569 planned and organized a silent protest the night before Trump was to give his remarks, making signs that read #Resist in bold lettering on white computer-sized paper.
While some attendees applauded or sat silently listening to Trump, Segura said five other protesters stood up two minutes into Trump’s remarks and turned their backs on the nation’s 45th president while holding up their #Resist signs.
Gretchen Newsom, political director for IBEW 569 who helped organize the protest, said the protest was intended to get their message out.
“Just in watching President Trump so far in how bombastic and volatile he can be, we didn’t want to present that to our brothers in sisters at our conference, so what we wanted to do instead was just a silent protest and get our point across.”
Segura said the silent protest triggered the sergeant at arms, the state police and the Secret Service to approach them and escort them slowly out of the room.
“It was pretty intense,” he said. “I’ve never done that before when there is a sitting president in a private meeting but we just felt like we couldn’t do anything,” he said.