The student news site of Emmaus High School



The student news site of Emmaus High School



Biden visits Emmaus, encounters protestors

Protestors gather during Biden’s visit to Emmaus. Different groups protested Biden, including pro-Palestinian and pro-Trump individuals. Photo by Ayaan Shah.

This previously ran in our February 2024 issue.

“I remember just walking outside and just seeing everybody at the barricades. I was like, ‘wow.’ I didn’t realize how important it was until I was there.”

This is how Emmaus High School junior Hannah Kern describes the scene at the Emmaus Triangle when President Joe Biden visited small businesses in the area, a major event for both Emmaus residents and Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign.

On Friday, Jan. 12, Biden toured several locations in Allentown and Emmaus, including the Emmaus Triangle, as part of his reelection campaign. In anticipation of his visit, several schools in the area, including EHS, released students early so transportation would not conflict with the several surrounding roads being blocked for the presidential motorcade.

Biden’s visit to the area primarily aimed to promote his policy of “Bidenomics,” his administration’s plan to revamp the economy “from the middle out and the bottom up” by investing in the middle class, according to the White House’s website.

On a broad scale, Biden’s plan includes laws that promote expanding infrastructure efforts in making new roads and bridges and creating clean energy projects that combat climate change. Locally, this means supporting job training that allows those without a traditional college degree to start their own business, such as those in the Emmaus Triangle.

Biden visited two businesses on his trip to Emmaus: Nowhere Coffee Co. and the Emmaus Run Inn. The first president to visit Emmaus while in office, he met with Juan and Lauren Vagras and Sean Linehan, owners of Nowhere Coffee and the Emmaus Run Inn, respectively.

Several Emmaus residents also had the opportunity to meet the president when he stopped at Nowhere Coffee. Kern was included among those lucky few.

“I was actually just going in as a guest with my friend…and then one thing led to another,” Kern said. “This guy asked us to go do a favor for him, and then in return for the favor, me and my friend got to meet him [Biden]. It was pretty exciting.”

Kern also describes the thorough security procedures required for her to stay in the building.

“It was really intense for us because we weren’t supposed to be there,” Kern said. “So they were quickly doing background checks on us, so we had to get searched. Everybody got searched before entering by the Secret Service.”

In preparation for Biden’s visit, the Secret Service, the force responsible for the president’s safety, coordinated with the Emmaus Police Department to secure the area on the ground. They established various checkpoints around the Triangle along Main Street where pedestrians were searched before entering the area. Additionally, the Emmaus Police Department created several blockades to clear a route for the presidential motorcade to pass through, while also performing crowd control for those watching on the streets.

EHS school resource officer Craig Blose was part of the police force present at the event, providing security to the president as he toured Emmaus Run Inn and Nowhere Coffee.

“I worked physical security inside of what they call the ‘hard perimeter,’” Blose said. “President Biden was located inside of the building [Nowhere Coffee], and my job was to secure the immediate outside of that building.”

Blose added that Biden’s most recent visit marked his fourth time covering a presidential detail, but it was still a privilege for him to experience.

“It [protecting the president] is a very proud moment,” Blose said. “Regardless of what your political affiliation is, he’s the President of the United States and arguably the most powerful man in the world. It’s very important and I was honored to be entrusted with that detail.”

Biden’s motorcade was met with a mixture of both supporters and protestors, as hundreds gathered to see the president arrive. Several pro-Trump protestors stood around the Triangle, and held signs affirming their belief that Biden stole the 2020 election. One man waved a large flagpole declaring “F— Biden” while sporting a “Chumps 4 Trump” hoodie.

Linda Nieman, a Lehigh Valley resident, protested Biden’s arrival by brandishing a “Let’s Go Brandon” sign for hours prior to the event.

“I’m here representing the people that know what a fraud this whole administration is and has been, ever since the election,” Nieman said. “And now we have proof [the election was rigged] that we never had before, and that’s been the beauty of Donald Trump. He’s a s— stirrer, he’s brought a lot of things to light. This was his mission in life, and he’s been very good at it.”

Nieman added she feels Biden has campaigned too heavily on the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, relying on that point alone to challenge Trump. When asked whether she was at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Nieman said after a long pause, “No comment. Take that as you will.”

However, many showed up carrying signs of support for Biden as well. Marylyn Horkowitz, a 1973 EHS graduate, carried a “Dark Brandon 2024” sign, and cheered the president on as he arrived. She, along with Kathy Harrington and Carol Corso, represented the left-wing grassroots Political Action Committee (PAC) Lehigh Valley for All.

“Last year, at this time, inflation was at 6.5 percent, and now it’s at 3.2 percent,” Horkowitz said. “Whether people want to admit it or not, he’s [Biden] already reduced the inflation rate, and he’s also gotten the Build Back Better [Act] going on now, putting money into all communities and providing jobs for tons of people.”

In addition to those who showed support for their political affiliation, many other protestors gathered to express their concerns for the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, specifically Biden’s unwavering support for Israel despite mounting casualties.

Lynn Robinson and Rosalie Swana, two Jewish protestors, were among several members of the anti-Zionist organization Jewish Voice for Peace who came up from Philadelphia to protest the motorcade.

“I’m the great-granddaughter of Holocaust survivors — my great-grandparents were strongly opposed to Zionism and highly critical of Israel in general,” Swana said. “My sign [Let Gaza Live] is saying that because I am the product of the Holocaust, I can see that what is happening to the Palestinians is extremely similar to what has happened to Jewish people previously.”

Photo by Clare Sheehan.

Robinson agreed, adding that she believes Biden is no longer the candidate she voted into office in 2020. She also stated she would consider voting Republican in the general election against Biden – despite being a consistently Democratic voter.

Despite the overall seriousness of the event, Biden’s interaction with some residents prompted several memes mocking the president on the internet. An X (formerly Twitter) account with the handle @_johnnymaga posted a video of Hannah Kern’s interaction with Biden — which has since gone viral with over 3.5 million views on the platform — with the caption, “Look how scared this poor girl is. Biden is an absolute freak.” The video shows Kern tentatively backing away from Biden as he moves to examine a bookshelf behind her, so as not to get in his way. Many conservative commentators seized on this moment, implying that Biden made Kern uncomfortable and she shifted away out of fear. Kern, however, denies this, finding humor in the whole situation.

“I didn’t realize he was behind me, so I was nervous because he’s talking to the press. I should get out of his way when people were talking to him,” Kern said. “It [being scared of Biden] is very obviously not true, so all you can really do is laugh at it.”

Additional reporting by Clare Sheehan and Gavin Germain.

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Ayaan Shah
Ayaan Shah, Editor-in-Chief
This is Ayaan's third year on The Stinger. He is a member of Academic Team, Varsity Chess Team, President of Chess Club, and Treasurer of World Cultures Club, in addition to being a member of NHS. Ayaan is also a member of the Student Press Law Center's New Voices program, which is dedicated to passing protective state legislation for student journalists. He won first place for editorial writing in the 2023 Keystone Media Awards and third place in the 2023 Pennsylvania Press Club high school journalism contest. In 2024 he won second place for ongoing news coverage of the EPSD Board elections, and also won the $500 statewide diversity champion scholarship award from the Keystone NewsMedia Association. He also won First Place in editorial writing for the 2024 Pennsylvania Press Club competition in addition to several honorable mentions. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, Ayaan was the Managing Opinion Editor, and a Deputy News Editor prior to that. Outside of school, Ayaan enjoys reading history books, writing, and shaping bonsai trees.
Ogonna Nnodimele
Ogonna Nnodimele, News Editor
Ogonna has written for The Stinger since her sophomore year. She is also treasurer of French Club and a member of Key Club, Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, Math League, and Black Student Union. When she's not in these clubs, she likes to read, listen to music, go to the movies, and hang out with friends.

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    EdFeb 23, 2024 at 1:03 pm