by Mandie Czech
Over the past week, there has been great controversy regarding the planned Donald Trump campaign rally at the UIC Pavilion. Previously scheduled to take place March 11, 2016, the rally was “postponed due to security concerns” pertaining to the massive protest against his campaign. Anti-Trump protesters came out in multitudes to show solidarity against Trump and his rampant bigotry. The majority of protesters at Trump’s rally were UIC students. Upon hearing that Trump postponed his rally, they shouted “We Stopped Trump!” There were many concerns for safety leading up to the event. In the end however, the protest appears to have accomplished its mission peacefully.
As previously reported, after Trump’s campaign announcement protesters started a “Trump Rally Protest” campaign on Facebook to stand in solidarity against the Republican Presidential candidate that received 11,000 replies. Previously, UIC faculty members expressed concerns along with students about the rental of the UIC Pavilion to Trump, explaining that they feared for their diverse staff and the message Trump would bring to the University.
The majority of protesters at Trump’s rally were UIC students. Upon hearing that Trump postponed his rally, they shouted “We Stopped Trump!”
Never one to blame himself, Trump said that he does not take responsibility and believes that the protests are not directed at him, but at the direction the country is going.
ABC 7 News Chicago reported that a speaker took the stage to announce, “Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed until another date. Thank you very much for you attendance and please go in peace.” The announcement was made at 6:30pm. There were a reported 7,000 people in attendance in the UIC Pavilion. It is currently speculated that when Trump rally organizers discovered thousands of anti-Trump protesters in the audience, they canceled the event.
Several minor scuffles broke out within the venue, though nothing major. Trump supporters blamed protesters for inciting the confrontations.
The media quickly jumped on the story and began projecting the protest as “total chaos” and spoke to a woman known as Cathy by phone. Cathy complained that she believed the police were not doing enough to move protesters out of the vicinity of a UIC parking garage she was apparently parked in. She reported to ABC 7 Chicago that, “everyone in the parking garage started to get weapons out of their car, they’re ready to fight”. Shortly after ABC 7 aired this caller, TV viewers saw police begin to allow drivers out of this parking garage. It is curious that this individual and others like her were so frightened when there were no reports of violence between protesters and individuals leaving the parking structure. The police held back the cars in the structure to allow the protesters to disband as they were exiting the Pavilion. By all accounts, they did a good job.
One student who attended the rally disputes these media claims stating, “I was in the protest outside the Pavilion, not inside. It was definitely not total chaos. Disruptive, yet peaceful. Only weapon we used was our voices. It was a beautiful show of unity. People of every race, religion, and background uniting against one bigot. We really made history tonight. It feels amazing. I have never been more proud to be a UIC student and a Chicagoan.” She continued, “I saw one person arguing with an officer, super close to their face, but other than that not much direct confrontation honestly.”
UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker stated,
The University of Illinois at Chicago worked with all appropriate agencies to address the security concerns associated with an event of this nature including the Secret Service, Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police as well as campaign and protest organizers. The vast majority of attendees at today’s event exercised their Constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly peacefully. The abrupt announcement of the cancellation of the event created challenges in managing an orderly exit from the Pavilion, which nonetheless, was accomplished with no injuries or arrests.
UIC student Adil said, “Outside was 100,000% peaceful. Today we stood up against oppression and told the world the best way to combat hatred is with love.” He continued, “Love will always TRUMP hate. We chanted, No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA. As a UIC community we showed the world we can change the world and that bigots aren’t welcome here.” When asked how he would describe the feeling about Trump rally cancellation, Adil replied, “Utter joy. It’s amazing. I felt as if today I became an American. I used my right to protest to free speech. Today was the best day of my life.”