Veterans plan protest of Donald Trump in Jacksonville
When Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives in one of the nation's largest military communities today in Jacksonville, he can expect protest from veterans upset with his back and forth with the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
"We're setting up a protest outside of the event right now," said David Gates, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam and now lives in Jacksonville.
Gates said Trump has no right to criticize the family for their comments given what they have given up for the nation, even if it were at the Democratic National Convention.
"They have the right to say whatever they damn well please," said Gates, a Hillary Clinton supporter and 30 year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
When Trump speaks in Jacksonville, he'll be doing so amid criticism from Gold Star families and leaders with the Veterans for Foreign Wars for his comments about the Khan family.
"Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression,” said Brian Duffy, the newly elected leader of the VFW.
Few counties in American have as big of a military footprint than Jacksonville, which is home to two of the nation's five largest U.S. Navy bases. Nearly 100,000 people work on those bases. In addition, Duval County has almost 100,000 veterans, more than any other county in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.