An activist is removed by police from the Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Source: Chicago Sun Times, Getty Images
Sly Yushchyshyn is a first-year UC Dems member who protested Donald Trump’s March 11th campaign stop at the UIC Pavillion. Though Chicago Police Interim Superintendent John Escalante said that the involved police departments had more than adequate resources, and could guarantee Trump safe access to and exit from the event, Trump cancelled anyway. Though we can’t be sure which vague policy proposals Trump would talk about at the UIC event, we do have Sly’s perspective on protesting his almost-speech.
Donald J. Trump’s scheduled campaign stop at the UIC Pavilion just before the Illinois primary engulfed my newsfeed. Friends tried to protest anyway they could—some RSVP to the event with no intention of going hoping their seat would remain empty. I did this too but soon realized that the tickets only guaranteed entrance into the event and not an actual seat. Thus, if I wanted to stand up to the Donald, I had to take direct action.
As a result, on a chilly Friday evening, I found myself among hundreds of men and women marching and chanting “hey, ho Donald Trump has got to go.” Each of us was there for a different reason, but ironically, Trump brought us all together. I guess he is a “unifier” but just not in the sense that he meant it. I was there because for too long now I have witnessed him cheerfully advocate for building walls. Walls that separate these United States of America based on race, ethnicity, religion, and nationality. He has ignited and encouraged prejudice and hate. One only needs to look at Trump’s own rallies to see that his words already have materialized: protesters have been sucker-punched, kicked, spat at, called racial slurs, and told to go back to their country. Therefore, I could not, in good conscious, stay home.
The protest was led by a diverse group of students who held a large sign that read “Trump makes America hate, our students make America great.” We marched through UIC’s main quad to the Pavilion where police officers and barriers separated us from the long and winding line of Trump supporters. Our loud and powerful battlecries drew a few remarks from angry Trump loyalists who unsuccessfully tried to start counter chants of their own. There were also a remarkable number of anti-Trump forces in line—with a variety of “make America hate again”, “dump Trump”, and Bernie Sanders signs. However, it was at this point in the protest that I witnessed something that I had not expected.
While most of the people in my vicinity engaged in regular intervals of chanting and listening, two individuals partook in yelling rude insults and threats. One man threatened to find the supporters after the rally when the “cops aren’t there to protect [them].” A young woman who was right next to me hurtled rapid F-bombs. The whole scene made me uncomfortable; I came to protest Donald Trump and not scream profanities at his supporters. By engaging in that sort of behavior, we would be no different from Trump. We would be stooping down to his level. I voiced by uneasiness to by friend, and he agreed. Protesters around us also nodded their heads in agreement, but our words were left unheard by the people for whom they were meant.
I understand why people are angry and why some, like those two protesters, would want to resort to obscenities, but let us not forget that we cannot fight hate with hate. Thus, merely being on a certain side of the barrier does not mean it is acceptable for them to do what they did. We are protesting against hate and intolerance—don’t be a part of the hate and intolerance.
What then can be said about the people that support Trump? Are they all that Trump is described to be? Let’s imagine a voter who does not support Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the U.S. or his wall along the southern border but believes that America needs a businessman and not a politician. Then, is he wrong to vote for Trump?
Although it may be possible to overlook some politician’s proposals and still vote for that politician, it is not possible to do that with Trump. One cannot overlook any aspect of Trump. One may try to convince oneself that they are voting for Trump, the businessman and not Trump, the xenophobe or Trump, the Islamphobe; however, the reality is that when one votes for Trump one is voting for Trump, all the above. As a result, in the words of Stuart Stevens, “to support Trump is to support a bigot. It’s really that simple.”
For more information on the March 11th anti-Trump protests at UIC:
DNAinfo: UIC professors arguing that Trump’s appearance “threatens to create a hostile and physically dangerous environment to the students, staff, faculty and alumni who come out to express their opposition.”
Politico: Inside the Protest that Stopped the Trump Rally
ABC7 Chicago: Reporting on the UIC protest