Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump picked a World War II-era battleship in San Pedro as a backdrop to share his views Tuesday about national security.
Trump’s appearance, organized by Veterans for a Strong America, is expected to draw more than 1,000 attendees to the top deck of the USS Iowa, which has been docked in Los Angeles as a nonprofit tourist attraction, community gathering space and educational museum since 2012.
The Iowa was launched in 1942 and recommissioned in 1984 during the military build up at the end of the Cold War. In April 1989, an explosion of undetermined origin wrecked her No. 2 gun turret, killing 47 sailors.
Some critics contend Trump’s visit — on the eve of the CNN Republican candidate debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library — is not an appropriate use of the battleship. An online petition, “Tell the USS Iowa: We Don’t Want Trump in San Pedro,” had garnered more than 3,500 signatures as of late last week from area residents calling for the event to be canceled.
“This battleship is part of American history and should not allow a man who has injured and insulted a significant portion of the Los Angeles community,” wrote Gabriela Lopez of San Pedro, who started the petition on Change.org. “We are for freedom of speech, however this ship represents freedom, equality and justice; terms that do not align with Mr. Trump’s political views.”
“We are not taking sides — this is neutral ground,” Williams said. “Our number one goal is to be a community platform, and freedom of speech is a great thing, whether that’s from Trump or from protestors. We are happy people are talking.”
This is the first time Veterans for a Strong America has used the battleship, which rents out and hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from free community movie nights and a veterans’ job fair to corporate events that can be much larger in scale than Trump’s appearance, Williams said.
Registration and advance payment is required for those interested in attending the event. For details, visit www.veteransforamerica.org.
City News Service contributed to this article.
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