Donald Trump Flees Chicago Campaign Event Following Demonstrations
Donald Trump was forced to call off a rally on the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) campus on Friday after thousands turned up to protest the event.
An Estimated 5,000 protesters chanted and held signs criticizing Donald Trump’ for his racism, particularly against Muslims and Latinos. Many of the protesters were also criticizing Trump for his support from White supremacists and terrorist organizations like the KKK.
The protesters were separated from those attending the Trump event by steel railings, police on horseback, and an all around heavy police presence.
The UIC community had made it clear they were opposed to Trump appearing on campus. 50,000 people signed a petition stating the rally has “no place” on their campus. The petition said, “Donald Trump is running on a platform of hate and dangerous intolerance.”
Over 10,000 people signed up to attend the protest on Facebook, which was organized by a diverse group of students from UIC. UIC is a particularly ethnically diverse college. White students comprise only 36% of the student body. The faculty at UIC had asked the administration to put out a statement calling Trump’s presence on campus “an anathema to the mission of UIC.”
Despite the students and faculty concerns, UIC administration pressed ahead with the Trump rally.
— Paul Gottinger (@PaulGottinger) March 11, 2016
In addition to the thousands outside, a large number of protesters managed to get into the event. According to the CNN, at least 5 sections of the UIC pavilion were filled with protesters. The Guardian reported one section of young people and individuals with “Middle Eastern appearance” were cleared out of the rally long before it started.
North Star Post spoke with Daney Villa, who was inside the rally. Ms. Villa confirmed that a large contingent of those inside were protesters.
She also said she witnessed, “a few people thrown out for protesting every few minutes. Trump’s supporters were ripping signs out of the hands of protesters.”
Eventually, an announcement was made that Trump had “postponed” the rally for the “safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena.”
— Paul Gottinger (@PaulGottinger) March 12, 2016
In reaction, protesters erupted, chanting, “We stopped Trump!” Some scuffles between Trump protesters and supporters broke out after the announcement. Ms. Villa said, “Trump supporters seemed to feel violence was acceptable because of Trumps’ rhetoric.”
The Trump campaign issued a statement saying the decision to cancel the event came after “meeting with law enforcement.” However, the Chicago police department said they “never recommended that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cancel his campaign rally in the city.”
— Justin Breen (@dnainfo_breen) March 12, 2016
There were 5 arrests reported and one individual was rushed to the ER from wounds he received from a police officer. NSP witnessed one Trump supporter wander into the protest and nearly get into an altercation with protesters. There were other unconfirmed reports of Trump supporters attacking protesters. One women told the crowd she had been punched in the arm, and had her bullhorn broken by a Trump supporter.
The other GOP candidates criticized Trump for the violence at the rally. Gov. John Kasich said, “Tonight the seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign finally bore fruit, and it was ugly.”
After Trump canceled the rally, he spoke with MSNBC saying, “’What ever happened to freedom of speech?’
Trump himself has been especially intolerant of free speech at his rallies. Recently a Time magazine photographer was slammed to the ground. On numerous occasions, Trump has implored his followers engage in violence against protesters his rallies. Trump now even has security working to collect intelligence on possible protesters.
There were, however, some free speech infringements on the part of authorities. NSP witnessed possible use of cell phone jamming equipment, which the Chicago police department is known to use at protests.
Phone signals were blocked for a large number of people at the site of the protest, but would return if one walked a few blocks from the protest. At the end of the protest, the cell signal returned, almost like a switch had been turned. NSP will be investigating this further.
This protest follows a ground swell of activism in Chicago, which resulted from the release of dash cam video showing a White police officer shooting 17 year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.
One protester celebrating Trump’s event being canceled said, “None of the Republican candidates, nor the GOP establishment can stop Trump, but tonight a coalition of students, Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, and Whites were able to defeat Trump him here in Chicago, at least for one night.”
— Paul Gottinger (@PaulGottinger) March 12, 2016