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Crowd protests as vice president raises funds for Collins at Buffalo area restaurant

About 80 people protested outside a suburban Buffalo restaurant Tuesday as Vice President Pence arrived to raise campaign funds for one of the Trump administration's staunchest backers in Congress, Rep. Chris Collins.

As Pence's motorcade passed by the protesters outside Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Road, Lancaster, shortly before noon, the crowd chanted, "This is what democracy looks like." The crowd stood at the corner of Genesee Street and Transit Road as the vice president passed by without stopping.

Organizers had expected a crowd of more than 100 people to show up to protest against Pence and Collins. The crowd of protesters grew in size from about 35 to about 80 by the time Pence left around 1:20 p.m.

Traffic was blocked on the busy Transit Road for about 10 to 15 minutes as Pence's motorcade approached, and again for about 20 minutes before it left, causing a large backup of vehicles both times.

The protest, dubbed “Invisible Constituents Protest & Rally,” seemed aimed as much at Collins, R-Clarence, and President Trump as at Pence.

Trump is "being enabled by people like Chris Collins," said Ruth Hasseler of Hamburg.

Sue Nealon, also of Hamburg, said she was there to protest Collins. "I don't think he's a good representative. I'm unhappy about the way our country is going."

Protester Eileen Giarrafa of Williamsville said the Trump administration has no respect for human rights or compassion. "It hurts me no end. Our country is moving in the wrong direction," she said.

But Abigayle Ploetz said she came to protest Pence. "I think the City of Good Neighbors should stand up when someone who is not a good neighbor comes to town. Mike Pence has a track record of being very homophobic, very transphobic, and against people I love."

Collins, with Pence's help, expects to raise $400,000 at WNY event

Pete Ricigliano of Clarence protesting Vice President Pence on Transit Road. (Barbara O'Brien/Buffalo News)

Pete Ricigliano of Clarence said he is 73, and never protested before Trump was elected president.

"The reason I didn't vote for Trump is what came out of his mouth," he said.

A retired tool and die maker, he said he is concerned that the younger generation will not have the benefits he had through his life.

"If the common person doesn't have any money to spend, the economy is going to go down,"  Ricigliano said.

The protest was organized and co-sponsored by: Citizens Against Collins, Stronger Together WNY, Citizen Action of WNY, We Exist Coalition, Young Black Citizens, Liberty Union Progressives, StandUp WNY, GLOW Progressives, Your Voice Your Vote, Indivisible Niagara, ACTion Buffalo, Empire State Indivisible, WNY Peace Center, and We The People - Southtowns.

Live coverage: Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Buffalo

Diana Patton was among the 65 people who stood outside Salvatore's Italian Gardens to protest Vice President Mike Pence's appearance there at a fundraiser for Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence. "This is what a transgender veteran looks like" Patton said. (Barbara O'Brien / The Buffalo News)

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