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Vancouver protests Trump Tower

The violent confrontation feared by the U.S. consulate never materialized at the tower's inaugural opening

Vancouver protests grand opening of Trump Tower

They came, they saw, they ducked through a backdoor to avoid protesters gathered outside.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s two sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., were in Vancouver today to attend the delayed grand opening of a new Trump International Hotel and Tower.

The two brothers have purportedly taken control of their father’s international business empire and came to launch the debut of the twisting, $360-million tower skyscraper at 1161 West Georgia St. designed by the late, great Arthur Erickson.

Protesters gather outside Vancouver's Trump tower.Geoff Webb/VICE News

The U.S. Consulate had issued a warning to avoid the area because the protest might “turn confrontational and escalate into violence” but a massive angry turnout never materialized.

Media outlets, local police and U.S. Secret Service members actually outnumbered the crowd at the beginning of the chilly and overcast day, although numbers increased as the day went on but never became anywhere near as large as the tens of thousands who gathered last month for the local Women’s March that took place in cities around the world following President Trump’s inauguration.

Geoff Webb/VICE News

Patrice Saint-Jacques, a ski instructor from Whistler who made the trip down the highway to attend, said he felt it was his civic duty.

“I realize nobody in the Trump family could give a damn if a bunch of Canadians who could never afford to stay in their hotel in the first place don’t like them,” said Saint-Jacques. “I guess the reason I’m here is kinda for posterity. It feels like people are starting to say ‘I guess we need to get used to this’ when the reality is there is nothing normal about this guy or how he became president.”

Geoff Webb/VICE News

The crowd remained peaceful despite the presence of a small but highly vocal number of Trump supporters wearing red Make America Great Again hats, including one young man in aviator shades who identified himself as Samuel Hyde. 

“We live in an authoritarian state where unless you go along with the ultra-radical left wing where you’re supposed to feel ashamed, but there are people here who stand for rule of law, decency and nationalism,” he said, between shouted insults at strangers. “I wanted to come out here and show that one Trump supporter can take on hundreds of these low-energy, low testosterone radical lefties.”

The new tower, which drew international headlines earlier this year after a Mexican construction worker hoisted his home country’s flag on top and posted a photo to Instagram, is one of the tallest buildings in Vancouver, although it is actually 63-stories and not the 69 initially claimed by the Trump Organization after it counted several basement floors.

The company also falsely tweeted on Monday the tower is the “first property to open in the city in six years” — something many pointed out to be untrue in a city that is in the midst of a building boom. The tweet has since been deleted.

While protesters and police blocked the front entrance, people were able to enter the premises via a heavily cordoned-off back alley. One frustrated resident who was forced to get out of her Lexus to ask to be let in told VICE News she didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

“This is so pointless,” said the young woman who declined to give VICE News her name. “I mean, you don’t like Trump. So what? I don’t like Trump either but I sure do love my new condo.”

This story has been updated. 

Cover: All photos by Geoff Webb

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