ReAwaken bids good night after two-day event
People were still speaking around 6 p.m. under the big tent in front of Cornerstone Church Saturday, as the parking lot looked much more like a mowed hay field than it had the last two days.
Law enforcement officers stood outside of the fenced property and vendors, including a Center Street Smokehouse food truck, departed the event. A lone Genesee County Sheriff’s vehicle sat parked farther down on Bank Street Road, just before the overpass.
For all of the worry and concern expressed beforehand about violence, there apparently was none. As for rhetoric and questionable claims regarding political and health matters, that’s up to one’s own opinion.
Signs stating no guns, no knives were an anomaly not often seen at church-hosted events. The ReAwaken tour seemed well-organized, and determined to stop anyone with a weapon from entering with security checking bags and each person upon entering the event.
Overflow visitors were provided space inside the church to view speakers on a large screen, while most — including special VIPs — found a seat under the big white tent in front of the church.
Days leading up to Friday’s debut of the tour offered whispers of trouble via out-of-town protestors planning a showdown. That never happened, and, in fact, not one protestor paid a visit to the site on Friday, and there were no reports — or sightings by The Batavian — of any on Saturday.
For an event this size, it was obvious that people had the protocol down — except for the schedule being askew — with a clear sound system, visuals on a screen behind speakers, and bios for everyone. Vendors sold many related, and political, items featuring Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and others. Mario Fratto’s campaign signs were equally prominent, and a tractor-trailer on Saile Drive got a facelift with a Trump 2024 billboard-sized ad facing the road.
It wasn’t so clear what Stone’s message was, given his bemoaning of his ordeal and how he had become homeless, penniless, and without a voice due to a judge’s gag order for him not to talk during his trial. Stone, who was convicted of seven felony charges, including lying under oath to a congressional committee and threatening a witness whose testimony would have exposed those lies, was later pardoned by the former president.
"We lost our home, my car, our savings, our insurance. But most importantly, I lost my ability to speak. I was not entitled to speak for 18 months, on any subject. I had to sit by and watch "CNN," and "MSNBC" and others call me a Russian traitor, called me, a Russian intelligence asset, lie repeatedly about connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign,” Stone said. “And then I made a fateful decision. I was depressed. I was angry. I was scared for my wife. I was demoralized. And it was then that I decided to redeem myself in the blood of Jesus … At that moment, it was like cement blocks were being lifted from my shoulders.”
“Not a month goes by in which the combination of my legal fees, just our basic living expenses, and we do not live a lavish lifestyle, and my wife's uninsured expenses, are not greater than the amount of money I make every month,” he said.
Not so fast. Several news reports, including “Orlando Weekly,” “Sun Sentinel,” and “The Daily Mail,” state that Stone moved out of his $1.6 million Florida home and rented it out for $9,500 a month, and purchased a smaller, two-bedroom apartment for $525,000. In July, he and his wife, Nydia reached an agreement with the government to be held responsible for more than $2 million in unpaid income taxes, penalties, and interest, subject to potential additional interest as well as subtractions for previously processed payments or credits. It also proposes a judgment against Roger Stone alone for about $453,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest.
Stone -- who has become as famous for his back tattoo of Richard Nixon as for his self-proclaimed reputation as a 'dirty trickster' -- talked about how he worked for “two of the greatest Americans in the 20th Century, he said: Richard Nixon and Bob Dole. But they don’t match the former president, he said.
“They were very, very tough guys, but neither one of them was tougher than Donald Trump,” Stone said. “Because of his toughness, he was a great president, and it’s just because of his toughness that he will be a great president again.”
Within some banter with tour host Clay Clark, Stone was asked how much his legal costs were. Are they $1,500? Clark asked. Nope. Those expenses are $35,000 a month, Stone said. After he spoke, there was an opportunity for folks to see him, buy his book and get it autographed, and make a donation, should they feel the urge to do so.
Top Photo: Roger Stone gives the famous victory sign -- a Nixon favorite -- as he ends his talk this weekend at the ReAwaken America Tour in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens.