The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Trump Fans Embrace 'Deplorables' Label In Inauguration Celebration At Tower

By Kelly Bauer | January 20, 2017 3:28pm
 A crowd of people watches the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday from Trump Tower.
A crowd of people watches the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday from Trump Tower.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer

DOWNTOWN — Crowds of Donald Trump supporters flocked to his Downtown hotel to celebrate the controversial president's inauguration Friday.

Standing in Rebar, the hotel's second-floor bar, supporters watched the swearing-in and speeches. Some proudly called themselves "deplorables," a term Trump rival Hillary Clinton had used on the campaign trail, and said they felt the country was going to be in a better place under Trump.

"Yes! Yes!" one woman cried as Trump spoke after his swearing-in. There were cheers as the new president spoke of eradicating "radical Islamic terrorism," and people rose to their to feet and clapped as he finished.

When Michelle Obama, a South Side native, and Barack Obama, a Chicago transplant, got into a helicopter to leave, there were more cheers, more clapping, more people rising to their feet.

"Buh-bye!" one woman said as the former president and first lady flew away. "Out with the old, in with the new!"

"What better place to celebrate than Trump Tower if you can't make it to D.C.?" said Theo Bielowicz, of suburban Hawthorn Woods.

Bielowicz was joined by a dozen family members who took photos, laughed and cheered during the inauguration ceremonies. Two young men with the group partly opened their button-up shirts to reveal T-shirts that said, "1-20-17, OBAMA'S LAST DAY," as relatives took photos and a woman said, "Best shirt ever!"

The crowd of supporters, which numbered in the dozens at times, largely came in groups with family or friends, some wearing "TRUMP 2016" shirts or red "Make America Great Again" hats. The bar wasn't hosting an official watch party, an event coordinator had said the day before, but it opened early and its TVs were all set to Fox News so attendees could celebrate Trump in his namesake hotel.

The crowd of supporters was largely suburban or rural (Chicago overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton), but some said crime and poverty in Chicago had helped sway their opinions in favor of the "outsider" Republican candidate. Trump criticized the city's gun violence throughout his campaign.

Bielowicz said he had supported Trump for a variety of reasons, including being pro-life when it came to abortions. Trump's commitment to being pro-life is something that could help end Chicago's gun violence, Bielowicz said, by showing people to value life.

Christine Righeimer, of Somonauk, said the city's problems were on display at a March rally for Trump at UIC. The rally turned to chaos when the event was canceled amid protests, and Righeimer's teenage son, Jack, and husband, John, were there.

"The fear I felt seeing it on TV, knowing my family was in the middle of it, that's just another symptom of what's going on in Chicago," said Righeimer. She went to law school in the city and thinks things have changed. "I felt safe walking from the train. But as time's gone on it's gotten to the point where I feel Chicago's a no-go zone."

The family hopes small businesses can succeed under Trump, they said, noting they were small business owners. Christine, a lawyer who works with non-profits, is hoping people will have more "money in their pockets" so they can donate it to charities. Jack said he had more hope for his future — he wants to be an entertainer or politician — after seeing Trump elected.

But the family, who said they were "on the Trump train" from the beginning of the race, also hopes Trump's criticism will bring more attention to the city's problems and lead to change. Obama didn't address issues in Chicago, they said, while Trump might.

"Chicago and Illinois have a lot of problems, and they're basically run by a lot of crooked politicians. So, y'know, 'drain the swamp,'" said John Righeimer. "I don't know what effect the president can have directly on the issues here in Chicago. But the fact that he vocalizes it, it does shed some light on it."

The celebrations at Rebar were "calm," said John Righeimer, and they were enjoying themselves. He didn't find it challenging to be a Trump supporter in a "blue" state, John said, but he had been denied service at a highway oasis because he wore a Trump shirt. Jack, who started a Students for Trump club at his high school, had been mocked.

At Trump Tower, though, the family felt like they were among friends. They wanted to "be among fellow 'deplorables,'" joked Christine.

"We walked in with the Trump shirts on," Christine said, "and they all started cheering."