RALEIGH, NC – Not everyone in the South is a fan of Donald Trump, and on Friday they made that very clear.
A massive outpouring of protesters zeroed in on the billionaire’s presidential campaign rally on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on Friday, interrupting him ten times before he wrapped up his speech and walked off stage approximately 45 minutes into his speech, the shortest he has remained on stage during any of his presidential rallies.
According to ABC-11, Trump held his rally at Dorton Arena where thousands of attendees came out to support him. However, over 60 protesters were also inside and outside the arena to oppose his campaign which they feel has generated a wave of bigoted hostility towards Muslims, Hispanics, African Americans and women. A press release from the Raleigh-based organization Living Ultra-Violet (LUV), said what was called the #LoveNotHate demonstration included their members as well as members of Anonymous, Black Lives Matter and Showing Up for Racial Justice. Other groups that participated were Triangle-triad Democratic Socialists of America, Si a Las Licencias, Comite Popular Somos Raleigh, Raise Up/Fight for 15, Workers World Party – Durham, Muslims for Social Justice and students of North Carolina State University.
Some protesters held signs reading “Stop the Hate, We Make America Great” and “Dump Trump”, while others were heard yelling “Black Lives Matter” before security removed them. Trump supporters drowned out the protesters with loud booing and chants of “USA! USA!”, and – in what has become a staple at Trump rallies – a number of physical attacks. One man was seen being violently shoved as he was escorted off property and protester Jes Cronmiller notes that she was punched in the face by a Trump supporter, and has circulated a picture of the woman in an effort to identify her. Those protesters who chose to remain outside took the brunt of the hostilities from Trump supporters that hurled insults and objects at them. Protesters inside and outside reportedly had their signs torn up and were spit on. No arrests of anyone on either side were made.
There has been several violent actions taken against those opposing Trump during his campaign, most recently an assault at a Birmingham, Alabama rally on Mercutio Southall Jr., a Black protester known for calling attention to unfair treatment of Blacks and Hispanics, that Donald Trump seemed to support and encourage in a later television appearance. The contention with Black protesters in particular has been one that many have seen Trump as provoking following the June incident at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign where two women associated with Black Lives Matter took over the podium prompting Sanders to walk off. Trump at the time vowed that he will take on Black Lives matter activists who confront his rally in a similar way, saying, “I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself, or if other people will… but believe me, that’s not gonna happen to Trump!”
According to Lila Little, one of the protesters in Raleigh that was inside the arena during Trump’s rally, the attack on Southall was among the things what motivated her and others to organize an action against his campaign. “Our goal was to just completely knock him off message and show him that we don’t want his hate in our state,” she told One People’s Project. “We don’t want to tolerate that.” She was one of the persons that were shouting “Black Lives Matter!” as they were escorted out of the arena, along with one White woman who was wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and was standing apart from her group and was confronted by a particularly angry Trump supporter. “He was right in her face, screaming at her,” she said. “Security actually moved him away from her before they did anything with her.
Raleigh and its local area, which is known as the Triangle region, has seen its progressive community particularly active most notably through the efforts of Moral Mondays, a grassroots social justice movement characterized by acts of civil disobedience that began there in 2013 in response to how the Republican governor and state legislature has governed the state, that today and has since spread to other states such as Georgia and South Carolina. Prior to the rally, a local alternative weekly in nearby Chapel Hill called the Independent Weekly “welcomed” Donald Trump to Raleigh via an editorial that rebuked his campaign as one of hate politics. “(W)hile we can’t build a wall in Raleigh to keep out Trump and his supporters—although we’d love to—it’s nonetheless gratifying to know that as much as he infuriates us, he aggravates and terrifies the GOP establishment even more,” the editorial read. “There’s also the fact that, because we have some common sense, Raleigh’s never going to vote for him anyway. That should speak louder than even The Donald.”
Trump was visibly frustrated by the constant interruptions, and attempted to diminish their impact by saying repeatedly that the protesters only amounted to four people, and also saying they were representative of a divided country. “If I could speak to these four people, I’d say, ‘Look, you may be a Democrat, you may be a liberal, who cares?” he said. “We’re going to make our country strong, we’re going to make it good, we’re going to create jobs.’ I really think I could talk sense into them, but this country is so divided, it’s such a sad thing. But remember it’s only four people.”
Little said that in response, those that were out in opposition to reach out to Trump to arrange a time and date where they can indeed meet with the candidate. “We are contacting his office and his people, and we’re gonna call his bluff,” she said. “We will definitely take him up on that!”