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A new wave of protests erupted outside Trump Tower Tuesday after President Donald Trump defended his response to Saturday’s racially-charged protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Aug. 15)
AP

NEW YORK — Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters and a small number of demonstrators backing the president faced off Tuesday evening across Fifth Avenue, three blocks south of Trump Tower, as police stood in a line in the street.

The anti-Trump demonstrators, backed by the sounds of clapping and drumsticks hitting barricades, shouted, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” The pro-Trump group paced, carrying signs reading, “Thank God for Trump” and “Deport illegal aliens.”

The New York City Police Department relegated demonstrators to pens between East 54th Street and East 53rd Street.

The scene was energetic but peaceful. Occasionally, a crew of police officers rode through on bicycles.

Demonstrators on both sides of the issue goaded each other across Fifth Avenue and across East 54th Street, though the anti-Trump crowd outnumbered the pro-Trump demonstrators by about 20 to one.

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Anti-Trump supporters shouted, “When I say Im you say Peach, impeach, impeach,” and, “When I say Re you say Sist, resist, resist” from their barricaded area on the east side of Fifth Avenue. Demonstrators used a machine to project phrases onto the exterior of a building such as “Dump Trump” and “End White Supremacy.”

Isabella Peralta said she was at the demonstration because, as a person of color, she no longer feels safe in her own country.

“I am here because our president refuses to denounce Nazis and the KKK,” said Peralta, 23, of Manhattan. “I am living in fear in the United States more than ever before,” she said.

Biotech company CEO Chuck Wilson said he decided to stop by the demonstration while in town for a conference because he feels disdain for the administration.

“I think Donald Trump is intrinsically evil and destroying this country,” said Wilson of Cambridge, Mass.

“I wanted to be part of the statement against him,” said Wilson, whose company, Unum Therapeutics, is working to cure cancer.

Anti-Trump protesters hold signs near Trump Tower in New York on Aug. 15, 2017. (Photo: Seth Harrison, The Journal News, via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Earlier, a handful of pro-Trump supporters settled in a penned-in area on the northeast side of East 54th Street and Fifth Avenue said they showed up to set the record straight about what they represent.

“It’s not about putting a black man in office, it’s about a government that needs to be fixed,” said Trump supporter Jose Bermudez, 56, a native Cuban who lives in Manhattan.

Bermudez wore a red baseball cap that read, “In Trump we trust.” He stressed he is in the United States legally and that he supports the president’s immigration policies.

“We cannot allow all these people in because they have to fix their own countries first,” Bermudez said.

Sixteen-year-old Luke Kabbash of Manhattan said he came out of frustration that Trump supporters were being associated with hate groups.

“That’s just not what we believe,” Kabbash said. “It’s an unfair label.”

While a majority of the demonstrators voiced views against the president, a handful of supporters chanted, “Blue lives matter” and sported the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” ball caps. A few carried Trump/Pence signs with one supporter attaching a “re-elect Trump 2020” pin as a sign of further support for the beleaguered commander-in-chief.

According to KOIN-TV, theatergoers who had attended Michael Moore’s new Broadway play, “The Terms of My Surrender,” were loading onto buses heading to the demonstration site.

On Facebook, Moore urged people to join him at Trump Tower after Tuesday night’s performance of his one-man show to “nonviolently express our rage.”

After the play, Moore can be seen on a Facebook Live video leading a group of people to the tower, where the president is staying for the first time since his inauguration. He was joined by actor Mark Ruffalo. They led the group in chants including, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

But by 10 p.m. ET, the crowd dwindled to a match across Fifth Avenue between about 300 anti-Trump supporters and about three pro-Trump demonstrators.

Police on horseback sat waiting at intersections for turbulence that seemed unlikely to happen.

During a news conference Tuesday at the skyscraper that contains his New York City home and office, President Trump defended the comment he made Saturday when he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead.

Trump’s insistence that both sides were at fault in the clash between white supremacists and protesters caused a major uproar on social media.

On Sunday and Monday, protesters rallied in cities across the U.S. Monday in Durham, N.C., a Confederate statue was toppled by demonstrators.

On Tuesday night, protesters also marched in solidarity with Charlottesville in Birmingham, Ala.

Contributing: Eli Blumenthal and William Cummings, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press.

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