Hundreds of suburban protesters, supporters line up outside MCC for Biden visit
Hundreds of suburban residents lined parkways and roadways, and filled parking lots of churches, gas stations and businesses along Route 14 and nearby streets in Crystal Lake, hoping to see President Joe Biden during his inaugural presidential visit to Illinois.
Snarling traffic for miles, supporters and detractors gathered in and around the McHenry County College campus to welcome Biden to the suburbs or criticize the president for his policies.
Teachers Lora Sprigings Naughton and Jody Landry, both of Crystal Lake, rode their bicycles to the college for the occasion.
"This is historic that a president is coming to Crystal Lake for the first time," Naughton said. "I really want to support a president who is trying to unify the country and do what's best for all citizens, not just some."
Landry, 51, said she was there for her 5-year-old daughter.
"This is hope for me," she said. "(I) want her to have a bright future."
Nearly 700 people dressed in red, white and blue dotted both sides of Route 14, waiting for hours in front of the college Wednesday morning. The large crowd had gathered early to get on campus before the Secret Service and local police cordoned off the area. The crowd made it to a few hundred feet from the school, while many other people lined the streets surrounding the campus.
Many protesters carried "Trump 2020" and "Trump 2024" flags. There was a large sheet banner reading "Make America Proud Again," and others with the words "Secure Our Borders," "Biden Take Off Your Mask," and "Trump Country." Two men with bullhorns led the crowd in chants of "Trump Won" and "Biden Lies."
The crowd started out vocal and loud, but grew quiet into the afternoon. A few Trump supporters picked fights among themselves, while several Biden supporters stood on the fringes watching. Trump supporters far outnumbered those who were there to support Biden.
Fred Bock of Crystal Lake and his sister-in-law Candice Bock, both Trump supporters, raised issues with Biden's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal, which Biden has been promoting during his tour of Midwestern states. They objected to giving Americans two free years of community college education.
"More like free indoctrination," Fred Bock told the Northwest Herald.
Many Trump supporters shared doubts about the 2020 election results and whether it was fair. Some criticized Biden's policies on immigration and toward other countries.
"We need to be one America," said Mike Douglas of Crystal Lake, who supported Trump in 2020.
Douglas said he believes there were "illegal votes" cast in the election through mail-in ballots -- an idea Trump propagated.
"Shut the borders down," Douglas said as a message to Biden. "Let's take care of our own country, let's heal ... let's make our country better again."
A 25-year-old Trump supporter from McHenry County, who chose not to give his name, railed against Biden's policies toward Russia and for "starting another proxy war in Syria and Iraq."
"I don't want war, Trump or not," he added.
Many suburbanites said they were proud to have Biden be the first president to visit McHenry County.
"I'm so excited he is here in Crystal Lake," said Betsy Bogacz, 73, of Harvard, who hoped to see the president but couldn't get close enough.
She lamented not being able to bring along her 97-year-old mother, who is a World War II veteran.
"This is a very important day. It doesn't happen all the time," Bogacz said.
Dave Mazurk, 69, of Crystal Lake, said he wanted to see Marine One land because it's "probably the closest I'll get to seeing a president."
"I'm thrilled," Mazurk said. "I think he's doing great. (Trump) created too much division in this country."
Teenagers Victoria Sadlocha, 15, of Lake in the Hills, and sisters Manjot, 17, and Jasmine Kaur, 19, of Carpentersville, said they don't identify as Democrat or Republican and were there to show solidarity for human rights.
"I just like to see the diversity," Victoria said. "Diversity should not equal chaos."
The trio agreed there's been too much divisiveness in this past year, even within their schools.
"I'm just here for Black Lives Matter, for human rights and equal rights," Manjot added.