As a child, Andres Bachelet used to visit the Old Post Office Pavilion for a panoramic view of the nation's capitol. But the Virginia-based paralegal says he refuses to return as long as it's owned by real estate mogul Donald Trump.
Protesters were on hand Thursday because they didn't like what the Republican presidential candidate had to say about immigration and other issues.
In August 2013, Trump reached a $200 million deal with the General Services Administration that has allowed him to turn the iconic building into a luxury hotel.
Bachelet and his colleagues joined a modest group of immigrant-rights activists, city officials and union workers outside the future hotel's renovation site to protest the GOP presidential candidate's controversial remarks about illegal immigrants.
"I have confidence that Donald Trump will get weeded out as the election process goes on," Bachelet told the Washington Examiner. "But it's still important for all of us to come forward and remind ourselves and everybody else what we stand for and what we believe in."
Several of the protesters carried cardboard signs that labeled Trump "morally bankrupt" as they participated in the hackneyed old 'hey ho so and so has got to go' chant and took turns expressing their grievances to members of the press.
"The hate speech that [Trump] is engaging in is unacceptable at any time, but certainly not acceptable in the political discourse of the campaign," John Boardman, a leading negotiator for the hotel workers union, Unite Here Local 25, told the Washington Examiner.
Trump's "hate speech" is the kind that triggers "crazy people like the assassin in South Carolina to think it's okay to go to do what he did," according to Boardman. When asked whether Trump has a track record of mistreating Latino employees that would potentially lend credence to claims that he's a racist, he said, "I don't think that's the question here."
Boardman says the United States' capitalist economic system will crush Trump by allowing Americans to vote with their wallets. Both he and Bachelet have encouraged those offended by Trump's comments to boycott him and hope the GSA will soon renege on its deal with the Trump Organization.
And while a number of entities — NBC Universal, ESPN, and Macy's — have cut ties with Trump, the celebrity tycoon has soared in presidential polls recently. Some polls show him in second place in Iowa and New Hampshire, leading in North Carolina and running as well as first place nationally.
Mary Stead, a Maryland resident who joined Trump supporters in a counter-protest Thursday afternoon, says Americans are hungry for Trump's message and should thank him for being "brave enough to tell the truth."
"We're standing at a building right now where he is going to employ thousands and thousands of people," Stead said, adding that Trump "isn't a politician, he's a businessman [which] is what our country needs right now."
As the group of counter-protesters held up signs that encouraged Trump to "make America great again," Boardman–who has spent years fighting to unionize workers inside the Washington beltway–turned his attention away from the Trump supporters.
"There were people who defended Hitler too," Boardman said.