President Trump protesters and supporters rally in New London park

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The groups gathered in McKinley Park just outside the U.S. Coast Guard Academy have a lot of differences of opinion but one thing they can agree upon is their right to free speech and today they all exercised that right.

“Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like,” was the chant coming from the Unify and Resist Coalition as members marched through the streets of New London to McKinley park.

“I got to go to court today,” said conservative radio talk show host Lori Hopkins-Cavanaugh who told the crowd her rights were violated when the city did not grant a permit allowing her group exclusive rights to the park.

Instead the two groups shared the green space. Those who support Trump and those protesting his policies.

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“We stand against his rhetoric of hate and his efforts to divide and scapegoat,” said Frida Berrigan of the War Resisters League.

“The message today is simply for freedom of speech and for our civic duty as Americans to partake in government,” said a Trump supporter who did not want to give his name.

Both sides with strong messages and sometimes heated exchanges.

“You’re standing up here saying horrible vile things,” one protester told Hopkins-Cavanaugh who had invited people to come up and speak. “Did I say something horrible and vile?” Hopkins-Cavanaugh asked her group. “No,” they answered. “Free speech is more important than feelings.”

But the display of democracy was peaceful.

“We don’t have to police the world,” said Peter Cooper who represented Veterans for Peace.

“He’s the duly elected president of the United States and I think he deserves the chance to act on the best behalf of the voters,” said Steve Bray who spoke for the group Bikers for Trump.

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New London police released the following statement on Wednesday’s demonstrations:

Demonstrations conducted at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 136th Commencement ceremony featuring President Donald J. Trump as the keynote speaker concluded without incident. Although the number of active demonstrators appeared in excess of 500 people, everyone’s behavior was tolerable and well within the confines of the law. Despite differences, everyone was able to voice their opinions and remain peaceful.

One warrant arrest independent of the demonstrations was made by the New London Police Department in the vicinity of the day’s event.

All involved agencies did a great job ensuring the well-being and safety of all demonstration participants.