BEDMINSTER, N.J. — With an oath, the Oath Keeper recoiled from the little old lady. He grabbed his left hand and ran down the hill, straight to the police.
“She bit me! She bit me!”
Make no mistake: This protest had teeth.
Woman-bites-man happened during a rally of about 80 anti-Trump protesters Saturday morning at the local library here as the the third round of the U.S. Women’s Open began. At 10 a.m. protesters organized a motorcade of 47 vehicles, festooned with flags and placards, and made three noisy passes past the entrance of Trump National Golf Course, which serves as the summer White House. President Trump watched the event Friday and Saturday afternoons from his personal box behind the 16th tee. It is his fourth visit to the course since taking office.
He spent about 2 hours there Saturday and entertained several players, including Lexi Thompson, the top-ranked American, No. 3 in the world and a Trump supporter. Trump watched the final group, Shanshan Feng and Amy Yang, finish the 16th before retiring to his residence on the property. He has not caused any disturbances. The same cannot be said for his opponents or his supporters.
When the protesters finished their motorcade they parked their cars and assembled on the lawn behind the Clarence Dillon Public Library, the designated free speech zone for this event. Speakers stood beneath a large oak tree and denounced Trump’s policies, practices, and personality.
By then it was 11:30. The sun had come out, but a storm was brewing. An angry pro-Trump contingent had congregated across the lawn, just a few yards away, intent on disrupting the anti-Trump demonstration. The pro-Trump faction lined the safety fence that bordered the intersection of Lamington Road and Rt. 206, held signs and banners aimed at passing motorists, and lobbed catcalls at the speakers.
As the temperature rose, so did the fervor. The groups traded chants for a few moments. Finally, Lou Di Paolo, the last anti-Trump speaker, said, “Let’s go to the fences!”
That’s what Sara Ehrlich did.
The 65-year-old Bedminster woman took her sign and her dog and squeezed into a space between a pro-Trump woman and Chip Murray, 64, one of seven men at the rally wearing an Oath Keeper T-shirt. The woman complained that Ehrlich was in her way.
Murray quickly stepped over and pulled on the top of Ehrlich’s sign. Ehrlich began to fall backward, so she turned her head toward Murray’s hand.
And she bit him.
Murray yelped and scurried over to a cop.
“She bit me!” Murray cried.
“She what?” the officer responded.
“Look! There’s the bite marks!” Murray said, pointing to the teeth outlines on the back of his hand.
The officer sighed and slowly approached Ehrlich. Murray was at his hip.
“Did you bite him?” the officer asked.
“Look. he was pulling my sign. I have a bad knee. It was giving way. I was falling down,” Ehrlich said.
“Did you bite him?” the officer asked again.
“I did what I had to do,” she replied.
“Identification, please,” he said. He turned to Murray. “You too.”
The officer took their identification and walked away. By the time he returned, Murray, who said he is from Orange County in New York, had promised that he would not file a complaint against Ehrlich.
Perhaps he had recognized that the image of a broad-hatted left-winger taking down a hard-core libertarian with nothing but her two front teeth might seem absurd in court.
The Oath Keepers is a far-right group best know for its 2014 actions, when it took up arms and involved itself in the disturbances in Ferguson, Mo. and with the Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada.
They were unarmed Saturday.
The scene seemed surreal as it unfolded in this bucolic bedroom community. It is so lovely that Trump, 70, plans to be buried here; at his golf course, anyway. The Dillion library, 2.7 miles east of the course (and future cemetery), is a tidy brick building. A community garden, fenced and neat, sits on its southeast corner. A charming children’s garden, terraced with flowers and herbs, is next to the rear entrance.
It was a lovely Saturday morning for gardening, but there were 15 New Jersey state troopers on the lawn. There were more than 150 protesters.
No one gardened.
The demonstration commenced just after breakfast, when local organizer Jim Girvan, 64, led the motorcade. Girvan, of Branchburg, drove a Ford pickup with a creepy prop in the back: an 8-foot Trump doll with a Pinocchio nose, draped in a Russian flag, wearing a Russian fur hat, khakis, and golf shoes.
Girvan, meanwhile, wore a black Dr. Seuss T-shirt with white and red letters that read, in the meter of Green Eggs and Ham:
I do not like your lying ways.
I do not like your hate for gays. I do not like your grabbing rump.
I do not like you, Mr. Trump!
UltraViolet, the women’s advocacy organization, sent an LED panel truck that brought up the rear of the motorcade. It displayed revolving messages concerning tapes on which Trump claimed that his celebrity gave him license to grab women’s body parts, as well as snippets of columns criticizing the USGA for holding the women’s event at a Trump property.
Trump’s controversial treatment of women framed at a premier women’s sporting event held at one of his properties might have framed the moment but very little of the dissent was woman-centric. Most of the outcry centered on healthcare legislation, climate change, and, of course, investigations concerning Trump’s ties to Russia. There was plenty of shouting and chanting — “Organize! Resist!” and “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “This is what democracy looks like!”
Indeed; for about 2 hours, it was exactly what democracy looks like.
The anti-Trump faction dispersed at 1 p.m., and that left the pro-Trump group with no one to pester. Most of them just went home.
A few remained, including that small cluster of Oath Keepers. The New York members had planned to travel and counter-rally for more than two weeks, Murray said, in support of local Oath Keepers.
“When we have things, they come up and help us,” Murray explained. “We like to do the same.”
He paused, looked down at his left hand, and seemed to regret his decision.
“I hope she doesn’t have rabies.”