Random bits from Monday’s Donald J. Trump rally at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville:
–Darren Botehlo, a WLOSer reporting on the rally, was still on camera at the end of when of his reports when he could clearly be heard saying, “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Good stuff.
-One of the most viewed videos from the rally was the one showing a Trump supporter slugging a couple of Trump protesters during the rally, but several protesters report than an elderly woman with an oxygen tank was knocked to the ground outside after the event. Observers report that police collected information from the man who knocked the woman down, then let him leave. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that four people were arrested at the event, for misdemeanor charges such as trespassing or resisting police. Police also took an unloaded shotgun away from a man who walked up to the civic center with the weapon over his shoulder.
-Well-known Asheville musician Andrew Scotchie was escorted out of the rally after he stood up and pulled up his shirt to reveal “Feel the Bern” scrawled on his chest and stomach.
-Exactly who were those people that Trump called up on stage to make a few comments during his speech? He apparently brought them up as examples of the regular Americans – not the “deplorables” that his opponent Hillary Clinton described – who support him. A few of the folks described themselves as educators, a pastor, etc. But who were they?
–So many middle fingers waving before, during and after the rally. So many middle fingers.
–HK Edgerton, the former head of the Asheville chapter of the NAACP who went on to be known as the African-American guy who loves the Confederate flag, was all up in the Trump action. I saw a few photos, and it appeared that he was on the pro-Trump side of things.
-Lots of folks commented on how close the group of angry protesters were allowed to get to the Trump rally attendees who were filing in, and then filing out, of the rally. And why did some of the protesters cover their faces with bandanas?
-In case you missed it, here’s part of a statement that Buncombe County Republican Party Chairman Nathan West posted about his experience at the rally. I think it is an even-handed recounting by him:
I got to the site just before 11 am. There were a few protestors there, but no more than a handful. They stayed on the other side of the road from the line and were respectful. As the day went on more began to show up as well as more supporters. Protestors began to cross the street with more aggressive comments etc but again remained relatively calm.
Getting closer to the time the doors opened there were between 75-100 protestors and they became incredibly aggressive and filled the streets and left about a 4′ wide space for the 7000 attendees to walk in. Now, the barriers were set up to allow this and they were directly up against the barriers to scream (and I mean SCREAM) and provoke attendees as they came in.
During this time I will tell you what I witnessed then I will tell you my personal experience. There were children under the age of 12 carrying signs that said “F… Trump” except using the actual word. These children were also yelling “F… Trump” “F… You you F…… Nazis” and the adults joined in to. “F…… D-bag Nazis” “Die Racists” “Kill Trump” and the list goes on.
There were also some very respectful young protestors carrying signs that read “love trumps hate” “love” “no h8 in our state” and they took there signs to heart.
Unfortunately, there were more of the prior than the latter.
Prior to the rally I saw one dust up where a protestor bumped into a younger (high school) man and things escalated momentarily but was quickly resolved as other supporters grabbed the young man and pulled him back and APD arrived within seconds. During the rally several protestors interrupted Mr. trump. One tried to run to the stage from Mr. trumps left side and he was taken down and in to custody. Others started chanting and yelling “F… You” etc but most marched out knowing they would soon be escorted out. The one most everyone is reporting on was behind me to my left around 30′ away. A group of 6-8 started yelling and a Trump supporter grabbed the back of the neck of a man and then the protestor reached out to grab his hand and they scuffled for about 2 seconds and then kept jawing at each other. That same supporter smacked another female protestors hand where she held her cell phone filming him. He should have let security handle things and not reacted because that was exactly what many of the protestors were there for and trained for. However, not everyone is politically learned and they were just there to support their candidate and no considerations for the political games that are played by protestors.
What happens to me? I was spit on, I was called more names that started with the word “fu…..” And was shoved as I escorted my wife and her friend from the building as they were trying to block the doors to prevent people from leaving.
Hard to tell whose worse: Trump Supporters or Trump Haters. Difficult to tell the difference between both groups of morons.
Well, Trump is a racist whose platform was built on racism, so yeah, Trump supporters FTW.
Not one word from Mr. West about the vile racist sh*t slung by the Trump supporters.
I think it’s awfully generous to call Nathan West’s statement “even-handed.” While I don’t dispute his firsthand reporting of what he witnessed at the rally, he certainly offers a one-sided perspective that is worded to maximize the innocence of Trump supporters and enhance the perception of “aggressive” protestors.
As a protestor who was present on the front lines as folks were exiting the rally, I witnessed many Trump supporters engage respectfully, either with laughter, passing bits of conversation, or at least quietly averted eyes as they left the area. I personally chose not to yell or chant, but simply to hold my sign and smile at folks as they walked by. But several rally attendees did get in my face and angrily called me a “loser,” suggested “it must be nice not to have a job” (never mind that I was late to the protest because I teach children full time for a living), told me “if your sign touches me, you’re a dead man,” or started shaking a half-open soda bottle that spewed all over me and several other protestors. Sadly, there was no shortage of disrespectful language on either side of the barrier. I will, though, second West’s observation that as people were exiting there was more vulgarity spoken by protestors than rally attendees, which was extremely disappointing especially when young children were nearby.
West’s choice of description is revealing in several instances. For example, he describes protestors as choosing to “SCREAM” provocations at rally attendees as they arrived. In my corner of the protest the majority of voices raised were actually chanting slogans including “Love Trumps Hate,” “No Hate in our State,” “We Love You” and (non-vulgar) versions of “Trump has got to go.” It was my perception that these slogans weren’t directed as accusations against attendees, but as general messages against the uncivil discourse of Trump himself, and of the Trump campaign. In short, based on my observations, I disagree with West’s characterization that there were more messages of disrespect than of respect among the protestors. (Though again, some protestors unfortunately got more vulgar when folks were leaving.) West also describes protestors as “incredibly aggressive” simply because they chose to use the full space provided by law enforcement, right up to the barrier. I’m sorry, Mr. West, but practicing full exercise of your 1st amendment rights of speech and assembly doesn’t automatically make you “incredibly aggressive.”
Most disconcerting to me, though, is West’s description of the physical incident widely viewed on video from within the rally – which I admit I did not see in person. For example, West writes that “they scuffled,” where video clearly shows the Trump supporter hitting the protester with a closed fist when the protestor has his hands down. To be fair, West may have written his description before having the benefit of a video to corroborate his observation. But then he offers, “However, not everyone is politically learned and they were just there to support their candidate and no considerations for the political games that are played by protestors.” I believe West owes an apology to all of the respectful attendees of yesterday’s event, Trump supporters and protestors alike, for being willing to rationalize impulsive violence as an understandable response to verbal protest. Trump supporters also punched a friend of mine in her abdomen, and punched a 69-year-old woman in the face, outside the arena. The fact that Trump and his campaign can turn reasonable people into apologists for acts of physical aggression is exactly why I was there to protest.
Neither “side” at the rally was free of blemishes, and as I mentioned above, I especially lament that some protestors chose to use profane or judgmental language against attendees. And my account, of course, is also only a single perspective – after all, I spent most of the rally in one spot against the police barrier! But I thought it was worth offering just to make the overall reporting a bit more even-handed.