SARATOGA SPRINGS — Members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department congregated outside Broadway's Northshire Bookstore Wednesday morning, before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's book signing began.
Spicer resigned as President Donald Trump's spokesman a year ago, after disagreeing with the president over the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Kathy Obst of Queensbury said she was concerned about protesters outside the bookstore, but she was relieved to see police officers when she arrived Wednesday morning.
"I wasn't sure what to expect, but I felt more secure when I saw the police officers," she said.
Obst said she and her husband, John, watched Spicer daily when he was press secretary.
"We appreciate his service and everything he's done for our country," she said. "I'm happy he came to this little community and that we're able to come out and support him."
Carol Geary of Saratoga Springs was the lone protester at Spicer's book signing.
She carried a sign that read: "Shame on you Spicer. Fake author."
"I really felt like someone had to be here," Geary said. "I'm working at a food bank after this, and families are fragmented. There are so many issues in our world, and someone is making money off an administration that's hurt so many people."
Northshire Bookstore Owner Chris Morrow said he chooses to promote the First Amendment at his business.
"We take our role as a community resource very seriously and representing a spectrum of ideas is important," he said. "Having access to books of all types is important and we want to provide them.
"It's not good for our democracy to close down ideas."
Morrow said Spicer's book signing went smoothly.
"I'm happy there were minimal protesters," he said. "Everything was peaceful."
Making their feelings known
Spicer wasn't as warmly welcomed by the community on Wednesday evening when he attended a Saratoga County Republican Committee event, which honored former chairman John "Jasper" Nolan, who died in April.
More than 50 protesters gathered outside the Union Avenue event with signs and a 20-foot-tall inflatable chicken that resembled Trump, which Joe Seeman, of the group Saratoga Progressive Action, brought back from Monday's protest on Trump's visit to Utica.
The group chanted things like, "Hey hey, ho ho Donald Trump has got to go."
Several officers from the Saratoga Springs Police Department watched over the protest and parked four police cars in front of the event on Union Avenue.
Saratoga Springs resident Ken Williams said he decided to protest at the event because he's concerned about the direction the country has taken.
"Our rights as Americans are being denied and I'm concerned about immigration, health care, national parks and those who are in need," he said. "Donald Trump is not making America great, he's going backwards."
Williams said he hopes the rights of citizens would be restored and that everyone of all races, classes and genders would be represented by the government.
"I'm concerned about so many people especially being so close to [Saratoga Race Course] and having so many people who work there from other countries," he said. "We're taking a stand to work to try to make our views known."
Lisa Barbarino protested Spicer's visit to the city on Wednesday and was one of a handful of Saratoga Springs residents who traveled to Utica on Monday to protest Trump's visit there.
"It was so invigorating," she said of her visit to Utica. "It was inspiring and there was a comfort that protesters against Trump far outweighed those for him."
Barbarino said while she would rather be enjoying her evening on Wednesday, she felt it was important to protest Spicer's visit.
"It's a sacrifice to protest, but I feel strongly about being here. I desperately hope everyone votes in the next election and that we have a fair election," she said regarding Russian election meddling in 2016. "Without a fair election, our democracy is in jeopardy."
Spicer said the stop at Northshire Bookstore marked the 24th day on his book tour.
"For the first time in my career, I get to talk about myself and why I believe the things I do, and share insight about what's been happening the last couple of years," he said. "It was an honor to see so many people come out.
"It's humbling to realize that's how people are spending part of their day — not just their money, but their time, too."
Spicer said while many people who come out are Trump supporters, others are not.
"Some say, 'I'm a Democrat, but I appreciate your story,'" he said. "It's fascinating to see the full spectrum of people who come out."
'It's nice to show support'
There were several young people at Wednesday's book signing, including Adam Salorio, 18, a recent graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
"I wanted to see Sean, because he's worked for Trump and I'm a big supporter of his," Salorio said. "It's nice to show support for [Spicer.]"
Salorio said Trump's views are similar to his, specifically regarding the economy and immigration.
"I hope our economy keeps growing and we're able to stop terrorism from happening in this country," he said.
Spicer said it was encouraging to see young people at Wednesday's book signing.
"To watch some of these young folks who are engaging civically speaks well to where the country is headed," he said. "If you can help a young person to become more engaged in our country, our society and our community, that's a good thing."