Donald Trump’s scheduled rally In University of Illinois at Chicago’s Pavilion was cancelled shortly after protestors hijacked the stage floor on Mar. 11. It seemed apparent that security at that point had lost control, as a few minutes later it was announced Trump would not be speaking. As a member of the media, and therefore not taking a side during the encounter, it was surprising that it took as long as it did for tensions inside the rally to escalate to the point where emotions were high and confrontations turned violent. We had set ourselves up hours before Trump was schedule to speak and more then hundreds were already being seated; while at the same time, hundreds were already standing outside to protest. On that day American’s rights to free speech, as well as to assemble and protest, were exercised. Seemingly, though, this was not the environment where anyone’s use of free speech was going to be respected. “They should try to come inside and see what happens if they try to protest inside; they’re not stopping us,” an attendee said to the many that were staring from the inside of the Pavilion at the protestors outside hours before the rally was canceled. To imagine that Trump protestors would keep their protest to the outside of the rally was an idea I did not once entertain in my head. Earlier that day a small group of young protestors made it into the rally and were wearing shirts labeled #MuslimsUnitedAgainstTrump and as soon as they were noticed they were met with a chorus of boos from everyone surrounding them until they were quickly kicked out, a move met with a standing ovation. The rally was not set to start for another few hours at that point and the unity of the entire audience signaled what a large backlash would occur should the protestors come inside. The slippery slope that led to the storm began when another protestor was escorted out by security and the crowd of protestors that had all assembled in a portion of the stadium made themselves known as they shouted “Let him stay, let him stay”. They too were soon met with more booing from the rest of the audience. This led Trump supporters to storm onto the floor and stand in front of the protestors with only a guardrail separating the two groups. In response to the conflicts occurring, the Trump campaign responded with a representative speaking on the intercom hushing both protestors and supporters alike to listen as he announced how anyone in attendance supporting Trump should respond. “Please raise a sign over your head and yell ‘Trump, Trump’ at anyone causing trouble until security comes and escorts the protester out,”he said. This was soon followed by a resounding uproar of applause and cheering from Trump supporters. “Thank you and lets help make America great again,” the announcer said. The protestors, however, were comprised of around a hundred all seated together which became a probem for security as they did their best to restore the calm while another group of protestors soon entered chanting a common Hispanic chant for “asshole”.
The crowd was becoming restless, not only because the protestors still had a noticeable presence, but because Trump was scheduled to appear 30 minutes before. If the problem was waiting until the protests subsided, we would all be in for a long night. Eventually a representative took the stage to address the delay, but before he could get a minute to speak numerous protestors stormed the stage in what Trump himself described accurately as “a coordinated attack”. It did not take long before the entire stage floor was sieged by Trump supporters and protestors alike. In the media section, right in the middle of the stage floor, one could not turn their head without seeing an audience member in high emotions ready to fight. It was the next few hours that captured nationwide attention due to the shouting and fighting described by everyone in the press as pure pandemonium. After approximately ten minutes of people shoving each other, protestors calling Trump an asshole, supporters holding up signs and yelling “Trump, Trump” as they were earlier told to do, and security trying to control the situation, an automated voice message announced the event was cancelled. At this, numerous Trump supporters’ patience and restraint exploded. Coupled with the protestors chanting, “We Stopped Trump” as they celebrated, the protestors were livid. “We fought the evil out tonight,” shouted a nearby protestor, which prompted a supporter to angrily respond. “The people have to be escorted out because of the violence of the left,” the supporter said. “This is not how you carry out a political revolution.” Talking to supporters proved to be difficult as many refused to speak to anyone in the media but because of their temper, but many of them were caught up in the adrenaline of the moment. Most who talked expressed a disdain for many of the protestors who were out of line cancelling the event. “How could they not respect the rules, there’s no way anything like this would happen with Bernie,” Billy Becker, a Trump supporter said. “Trump supporters have always let him speak and let people hear his message.” Daniel Gray, a student at UIC, defended the actions of the protestors arguing it was the temper of Trump supporters who overacted. “When I saw how the supporters reacted to the group of students who wore shirts ‘Muslims United Against Trump’ I could say they were a lot harsher and more aggressive when it comes to different opinions,” he said. “The fact that they bone rushed and forced the students out shines badly on them.” The audience soon dispersed, and as we left 15 minutes later the same message that had echoed in the background still rang in our ears. “Attention, Attention. The event is now over please leave the building, the event has been canceled”. Without the security that was present inside it was no wonder that once outside in the 10 minutes we were there I saw a maced man being carried back by security, numerous fights, obscenities shouted at one another, and protestors fighting off police as they tried to make arrests.