Seconds ticked down in the massive University of Illinois at Chicago Pavillion packed with thousands of people waiting for Donald Trump to emerge onto the stage.
UIC Students, faculty, and community members constituted the majority of the crowd, but Trump supporters were still easily spotted waving their blue “Trump” signs that contrasted sharply with the stark red chairs of the pavilion.
Tensions were high between the two groups as they eyed each other’s signs. Anti-Trump signs littered the crowd with sayings like “Chicago + Trump = Chump,” “Make America Sane Again,” and “We Are NOT Rapists.” Both Trump supporters and opposers expectantly checked the time over and over as the stage remained empty, no orange-faced man with corn stalk hair appeared behind the podium.
Meanwhile, outside, thousands of protesters chanted in the streets, “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” The protesters were of all walks of life, showcasing Chicago’s diversity in the best way possible – as one voice that refused to allow hatred to take roots in our city. Thousands of people marched together as one to Racine and Harrison, leading to streets being shut down as they chanted, “Let’s dump Trump!’ and “Muslims are American!” They carried signs that read “If I Had A Dollar For Every Time Donald Trump Said Something Stupid, I Would Have A Small Loan of 1 Million Dollars,” “Will Trade Trump For 1 Million Refugees,” “Liberation Not
Deportation,” and “Trump Hates Puppies” among others.
The anti-Trump sentiment was clear both outside and inside the pavilion as tensions continued to rise with punches being thrown and arguments between both sides erupting. Among others who were escorted out of the rally were three young men wearing “Muslims United Against Trump” shirts, an African American man who boldly stood up to rip a Trump sign down the middle, and a man who climbed up on stage to protest the rally. After much anticipation, a Trump campaigner announced that Trump had cancelled the rally.
Muslim women in carefully wrapped headscarves; Mexican Americans carrying their national flags of Mexico; African Americans in Rekia Boyd shirts; Caucasians with parodied Trump-Hitler signs; children looking around in awe; and, elderly folks strutting through the streets with joy, all chanted with one voice.
Immediately cries of “We shut sh** down!” and “We dumped Trump!” erupted from the crowd. The pavilion became electric with groups cheering and jumping up and down in relief. A large group in the crowd swayed as they chanted “We gon’ be ALRIGHT!” in a reference to Kendrick Lamar. Trump supporters were enraged and shouted “We want Trump!”
From there, a small number of violent altercations ensued between the two groups as Trump supporters began to leave the rally in disappointment while the Trump opposers continued to cheer and wave Bernie signs that had magically appeared.
Outside, the scene was unbelievable. A united Chicago: Muslim women in carefully wrapped headscarves; Mexican Americans carrying their national flags of Mexico; African Americans in Rekia Boyd shirts; Caucasians with parodied Trump-Hitler signs; children looking around in awe; and, elderly folks strutting through the streets with joy, all chanted with one voice. Many said they had never felt more proud of their city, their university, their friends and family until yesterday when they were able to kick Trump out of his own rally.
Since the shut down in Chicago, other rallies have made the news, including the one in Kansas City where police pepper sprayed protestors, and the rally in North Carolina, where pro-Trump supporter, 78 year-old John McGraw, sucker-punched another protestor.
Trump refuses to accept responsibility for the incivility perpetuated throughout his campaign, blaming Sanders’ protestors for chaos displayed.
Meanwhile, this reporter was there the night that the lights went out in Chicago, sending Trump packing – and it was GREAT!
Image by @soit_goes/Twitter