Falmouth Plow Incident Highlights Divisive Political Environment

Photo via Facebook; Sandra Faiman-Silva

FALMOUTH – An incident in Falmouth this week has brought the divisive and heated rhetoric over national politics and President Donald Trump home to Cape Cod.

A snow plow driver is facing charges that he intentionally pushed snow and water toward anti-Trump protesters at the Falmouth Village Green Monday.

The group was criticizing the President’s national emergency declaration on immigration.

Falmouth Police said John Pimental, 31, of Mashpee, will be summonsed on charges of disorderly conduct and assault via a snow plow.

Early Monday afternoon, a Falmouth police officer was flagged down by protesters to report they were assaulted by a passing snow plow.

The protesters alleged that a snow plow driver intentionally drove by the Village Green twice, throwing snow from the plow into the group.

A pro-Trump supporter, who said he was standing on the other side of the road with a small group of others expressing support for the president, has spoken out, saying the media is not covering both sides of the story.

Bob Horne Jr., of Bourne, said the anti-Trump group, which was significantly larger with dozens of people, was being disrespectful to individuals who expressed support for the president.

“They had a bullhorn. They were yelling expletives at us. They were mocking us,” Horne said.

“And anybody who drove by in support of us and gave us the thumbs up or honked in our favor were shouted at by the protesters across the street who were against Trump.”

Horne said he found it abhorrent that the protesters would use such foul language with children present.

Anti-Trump protester, Peter Waasdorp, of Falmouth, vehemently denies the reports by Horne.

“There was absolutely no exchange whatsoever with that group,” Waasdorp said. “They protested nicely and silently and we went on with our demonstration talking to the people gathered and never once addressed those people across the street.”

Waasdorp said two groups expressing their own points of view respectfully and without name calling or threatening each other is the way it should be.

“Anyone who says that there was interaction between the two groups that was disrespectful wasn’t there and is telling an absolute lie,” he said.

The question is whether there is any way to ratchet down the rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum.

Anti-Trump protester Sandra Faiman-Silva hopes the courts could bring together the man accused of the plow assault and the protesters to have a conversation in an effort to calm the situation.

“He’s a young person and he needs to be talked to and we need to be able to have a discussion with him so he can learn something from this and not just carry around his anger,” she said.

Faiman-Silva believes community service would be useful if a sentence is imposed.

“Maybe he can encounter people unlike himself and learn from young people who are struggling with poverty, racism and so forth in our community,” she said.

Waasdorp said he doesn’t want the man to lose his job, fined, or spend any time in jail but said that type of behavior can’t continue.

Waasdorp echoed the feelings of Faiman-Silva and agreed that a conversation could be useful, and also would recommend a sentence of community service if he was found guilty.

“I’m not as optimistic that simply sitting down with [people who support Trump, regardless of what he says and lies about,] and having a discussion will convert them somehow to a more fact-based, rational point of view,” Waasdorp said.

Horne said both sides need to step back and stop with the nasty comments.

“To stand out there and hold up signs that say somebody is something that they are not and then use foul language like that with an 11-year-old present is not right,” Horne said.

Horne also believes a big part of the problem is that many people believe a false narrative about who President Donald Trump is.

“He has always hired people within his organizations who are of different racial profiles,” he said.

“His ambassador to Germany is openly gay. He just signed a document the other day in support of LGBTQ rights and wants other countries to provide LGBTQ communities with the same rights they are afforded here in the United States of America.”

Horne said Trump is a “freedom loving guy” and that many on the left have driven the false narrative about Russian collusion because they are shocked that Hilary Clinton lost the election.

Waasdorp said the political context is often forgotten, and under-reported by the media, during events like the one that happened with the plow driver on Monday.

“What actually happened was around 55 people in Falmouth came out during nationwide protests on Presidents’ Day against Trump’s fake declaration for a national emergency,” he said.

“And a counter demonstrator, who disagreed with those protesters took it upon himself to soak and get as many people wet has he could.”

Waasdorp believes the plow driver was emboldened because of the actions and words of the president.

“This president has demonized his political opponents, African Americans, Mexicans, and women,” he said. “More importantly at his own rallies he has called for violence against protesters.”

Waasdorp said if that political context isn’t included in media stories then it is missing the whole point of what is happening.

“That is why this is a very different United States than it was when Trump arrived on the scene,” Waasdorp said.

The accused plow driver will be summonsed to court for Disorderly Conduct and Assault.

No injuries were reported during the Monday incident.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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