Crowd concerns: Rural township in Macomb braces for Trump's 'Save America' rally Saturday

April 01, 2022, 8:36 AM

Officials in a Macomb County township wish they could block Saturday's "Save America" mega-rally at an athletic facility not authorized for mass crowds or entertainment events.

Township Planning and Zoning Director Dana Berschback said their hands are tied, and the event will go on.


Organizers and the owner of Michigan Stars Sports Center in Washington Township "haven’t given us an option," the planning and zoning director tells Bridge Michigan. "This event is going to happen," Dana Berschback added.

"All we can do is show up and hand them over a $500 ticket [for exceeding occupancy]. How are we going to manage to shut it down? We can't." ...

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department will have extra personnel on hand and will set up barriers to help with traffic.

Donald Trump is the big draw as he comes to push Matt DePerno for state attorney general and Kristina Karamo of Oak Park for secretary of state. Parking starts at 8 a.m., doors open, live entertainment and merch sales begin at 2 p.m., and the ex-president is due to speak at 7 p.m. (Ticket registration.)

The rally is three weeks before the Michigan Republican Party convention, when precinct delegates will vote to endorse a nominee for attorney general, secretary of state and other down-ticket races that will not be on the ballot in the August primary.

Township officials say there are several issues, such as the uncertainty around the size of the crowd Trump will draw and the lack of available parking.

The sports center’s maximum occupant load, the number of people that can safely exit a building during an emergency, is 5,760. More than 15,000 people attended a Trump rally at that venue in 2018; the inside of the sports center was packed, and the rest of the attendees rallied outside.

Washington Township Fire Chief Brian Tyrell addressed the township’s board of trustees on Monday when it voted 4-1 to approve three additional areas for parking. ...

If the rally's organizers had followed the township’s protocols and applied for a special event permit, Tyrell said he would have reviewed and denied it because the building couldn’t support this large of a gathering.

The chief is concerned about "a pattern here of allowing this building for this use that was never approved," Bridge quotes him as saying. "At some point, we just can't allow this to happen" in the future.

The Lansing publication also quotes George Juncaj, a Trump supporter who powns the 80-acre center near 30 Mile and Powell roads owner in western Macomb. He takes an oddly hands-off approach to how his site will be used:

"I don't know how many people are going to be here because it's not my business to ask," Juncaj said. "They're renting a place from us. I can't ask them something like that. ...

"Everything's going to be all right," Juncaj told Bridge. "We let this happen twice before and never was there an issue. I think it's going to be great."

That nothing-to-see here certainty isn't reassuring, for some reason.

Earlier this week:

Trump Rally Raises Safety and Parking Concerns in Rural Macomb, March 29

Read more:  Bridge Michigan

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