Thousands of people are protesting two major medical fundraisers scheduled to be held at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, this month.
The first, on Saturday, February 4, is the International Red Cross 2017 Ball, a gala that is poised to be met with more than a thousand protesters who say the charity's humanitarian mission conflicts with Trump's authoritarian first week in office. Another five thousand have also registered their interest in the march, which will go from Trump Plaza to Bingham Island to greet the gala's fireworks display.
"The Red Cross is dedicated to alleviating human suffering," the organizers write on Facebook. "If Obamacare is repealed, it will be a disaster; 30 million Americans will be left suffering without health insurance....Let's get a HUGE turnout and show them we will not accept suffering at their host's hands."
Trump "might be looking for a peaceful break from the protests surrounding his presidency, but apparently he won't escape them here in Florida," the Orlando Weekly notes—an ironic twist of fate for someone who, as a civilian, criticized former President Barack Obama for taking golfing vacations.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Harvard University medical students and doctors called on the Massachusetts-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to cancel—or at least relocate—another lavish fundraiser at the Mar-a-Lago estate, coming up later this month.
Donors are paying anywhere from $1,250 to $100,000 to attend the event, which is scheduled for February 18. The students and doctors say that Trump's xenophobic executive order closing U.S. doors to immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries is "a direct threat to the health and well-being of thousands of refugees worldwide who are fleeing violence and persecution."
Over 1,000 people have already signed a petition demanding a change of venue, according to the Harvard Crimson.
Dana-Farber president Laurie H. Glimcher refused to cancel the fundraiser, saying the institute sympathized with the students' concerns, but that it was essentially too late to call off the event that had taken months to plan, the Boston Globe reports.
George Karandinos, who helped organize the petition, told the Crimson, "We're obviously incredibly disappointed with [Glimcher's] response, but we're hopeful that we'll be able to initiate a respectful dialogue with her and work towards a happy conclusion."
To some extent, their organizing has already made an impact. The Cleveland Clinic, an Ohio-based academic hospital, which is also holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago this month, said it would "not commit to using the same location for next year's event," the Crimson reports.