Armstrong: Trump got a good ol' Philly welcome

Protesters gather before Donald Trump’s private meeting at the View in North Philly.

IF YOU KNOW Philly, then you know Philadelphians like to keep things real.

I was reminded of that Friday when Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump arrived in North Philly to meet with a small, select group of African Americans. It was intended as a private lunch meeting with the presidential hopeful who has been reaching out to minorities in recent weeks.

I didn't score an invitation inside so I wasn't privy to the happenings inside the church. But the political theater that took place on the sidewalks outside the closed-door gathering was a free for all, the likes of which doesn't hit North Philly often.

On North Broad Street, near Fairmount, in front of Greater Exodus Baptist Church where the roundtable took place, dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters brandished signs and demonstrated loudly. Counter-protestors were there too, but they were greatly outnumbered.

Meanwhile, in the rear of the church, things appeared peaceful but drama awaited. Sirens blared when Trump's police-led motorcade approached. That's when a small group of onlookers ran up and took things all the way live South Philly style.

"F--- you you orange-faced motherf-----," yelled Peter Kourahanis, who had taken the day off from work for this express purpose. "Melania's a w----!"

There was more, but most of it is not printable in a family newspaper. It was bad.

The candidate - dressed in a dark suit and a red tie - emerged from a dark car and disappeared into a rear entrance.

"He's a hatemonger. He's divisive," Kourahanis explained afterward "He breeds hate. He's a narcissist. He doesn't care about anybody but himself. As long as it's Trump and the Trump brand, that's all he cares about.

"He brings out the hate in the country. He makes it OK to hate," he added.

His work done, Kourahanis and his buddies headed off in search of food. The excitement wasn't over yet though.

Not by a long shot.

Back out in front of the church, Black Lives Matter protesters continued their demonstration, chanting loudly and brandishing signs.

Despite all the commotion, I managed to catch up with Republican bigwig Renee Amoore about halfway down the block on Fairmount, where she filled me in on the roundtable discussion.

"It was excellent," said the deputy chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. "It was about 15 people at the most, a small group, very intimate. [Trump] walked in and we really told him about what we think serves not just African Americans but all Americans - especially us with the judicial system, what's going on with the murders, those type of things.

"He talked about people calling him a racist," Amoore added. "And I said, 'I don't see him being a racist' ... I see him trying to help the African American community, which we do need help and we do need to see some changes."

Other journalists wandered over and then demonstrators with Black Lives Matter recognized Amoore. They approached, brandishing signs and yelling, "Shame on you! Represents Trump! Represents bigotry! This person represents hatred. This person doesn't represent us! Shame on you! Shame on you!"

She gamely tried to continue with her interviews but couldn't make herself heard over the mayhem. So, the elegantly attired Amoore turned and began walking on her spiked heels back to her car as protesters followed repeating, "Shame on you Renee! Shame on you Renee!"

I have to give it to Amoore. Girlfriend didn't flinch. Even when the attacks got personal with protesters taunting her about her daughter Cherie's arrest for kidnapping a baby at the King of Prussia Mall in April, Amoore was stone-faced. It was a crazy scene as protesters piled on with more abuse and eager news media followed along asking Amoore detailed questions about the closed-door meeting.

Then, Asa Khalif, a local Black Lives Matter leader, directed protesters away from Amoore, leaving just the reporters and some of the people who had been in the meeting.

From what I could gather, the meeting was typical. Trump was big on talk but short on specifics about how he would actually create jobs and improve conditions for African Americans.

But judging from all the smiles in the photos of the meeting goers who posed with Trump, that was enough.

@JeniceArmstrong

armstrj@phillynews.com