JAMESTOWN, Va. (WAVY/AP) — President Donald Trump delivered remarks in Jamestown Tuesday at the 400th anniversary celebration of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere.
The foundations of that meeting in 1619 helped establish what became today’s United States government. The Virginia General Assembly is considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America.
Trump arrived at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport around 10:15 a.m.
VIDEO: Watch Trump’s Full Speech
Several dozen protesters gathered in Jamestown Tuesday in protest. They held signs and chanted slogans including, “Love not hate makes America great.”
Delegate Ibraheem Samirah of Northern Virginia interrupted President Trump’s speech Tuesday. He yelled “You can’t send us back. Virginia is our home.”
Samirah tweeted the explanation behind his protest.
Around 1,000 people attended the event Tuesday morning in Jamestown. Others, like the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, have said they are boycotting the event because of Trump’s involvement.
The boycott comes after the president’s recent comments calling U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black Baltimore-area district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
Lt.Gov. Justin Fairfax told WAVY sister station WRIC last week he would attend the event, citing the plight of his ancestor and the enslaved Africans “who have been cast into eternity largely with anonymity.”
Caucus members also pledged to boycott the rest of a weeklong series of events marking the anniversary and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia’s capital.
Kathy Spangler, executive director of the American Evolution Center, says they’re honoring all commonwealth’s history this year — both the good and the bad.
The anniversary comes as lawmakers in Virginia are grappling with the fallout from scandals that engulfed the state’s top three elected officials earlier this year.
A blackface photo scandal nearly destroyed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s career. Then, as it looked like Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax might ascend to the governorship, two women accused him of sexual assault. Fairfax, who plans to attend Tuesday, has vehemently denied those allegations.
Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat, has separately faced calls to resign after acknowledging he dressed in blackface decades ago.
Tuesday’s events were expected to heavly impact traffic in and around Jamestown. Officials with James City County on Monday released a list of expected closures and parking restrictions.