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Spirit of America rally draws a couple hundred

Brian Meyer, WBFO NEWS

Buffalo has seen its fair share of protests the past few months in response to President Trump's policies and actions. Saturday afternoon at Niagara Square, people gathered in support.

A rally called Spirit of America featured several speakers, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard.

Speakers voiced their support for several policies championed by President Trump. Chairman of SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) Don Hey talked about a federal effort aimed at protecting gun rights.

"The bill when passed will strike down the New York State SAFE Act and similar laws enacted throughout the United States," said Hey. "New York will become a leader in constitutional freedom."

It has been a rocky start for President Trump in the eyes of many Americans, but Saturday's rally is proof many of his supporters are sticking by him.

Credit Brian Meyer, WBFO NEWS
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard

"It's going to be tough for them as they watch Obama's programs die," said Paladino. "As they see our economy grow."

Looking towards the future, Hey talked about making a change at the state level.

"We now know that if we go to the polls, we can unite like this nation did and we can remove Andrew Cuomo."

While many cheered on the speakers, counter-protestors were demonstrating only a few hundred feet away. Several of them called for Paladino's ouster from the Buffalo School Board. East Aurora resident Laura Colligan says she's dismayed by some of the recent rhetoric.

"The America that I thought I grew up in... that I was taught about in school was an America that was an inclusive place," she said. "A melting pot for all of us where we all were welcome and we all were equal. I feel like the language that I'm hearing says that only people who look like me... people who are white are welcome. I want to say that isn't how we all feel."

Credit Brian Meyer, WBFO NEWS
Counter-protestors made themselves heard at Niagara Square Saturday afternoon

While both sides exchanged words with each other, no altercations occurred. The Buffalo police monitored the dueling events. No arrests were made. 

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.