Trump Rally Cancelled


Peter Corsiglia, Staff Writer


The Donald Trump rally at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday March 11th erupted into a conflict between protestors and supporters and was cancelled, and I was there. Two of my friends and I had boarded the train to Chicago after school to attend the rally. None of us were strong supporters of the presidential candidate, but I was planning to write a story covering the event. None of us expected what the night turned out to hold.

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protestors outside the event hold anti-trump signs.

The rally was set to start at 6 pm, but my friends and I arrived at about 4 pm. The first thing we saw was a line of protestors across the street behind a small fence holding picket signs and yelling into microphones. We proceeded to walk to the end of the line to enter the arena, which stretched at least two or three city blocks. We passed the most police officers I have ever seen in one area in my life; there were even mounted police. Dozens of news trucks, as well as vendors of Trump shirts, pins, and other apparel ran parallel to the line.

Protestors began to walk along the line, many with Bernie Sanders stickers on their shoulders. The protestors held signs that expressed vulgarity towards Trump as well as associating Trump with a swastika. As the protestors and Sanders supporters paced along the line, they incited boos and chants from the patrons standing in line. There was already a rowdy atmosphere in the air by the time we entered the pavilion an hour later.

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protestors line the streets near the UIC Pavilion.

After passing the security scanners and Secret Service members to enter the UIC Pavilion, we found a seat in the upper deck. About an hour and a half before the event was set to begin, there were already hundreds of Trump supporters surrounding the stage. As time passed, the arena became filled with more and more people. At around five o’clock, three protestors ripped off their jackets revealing shirts that said, “say no to hate,” and started yelling. The protestors were immediately pushed and booed out of the arena and a lout chant of “USA” rang through the arena.

Tensions continued to rise as protesters were kicked out of the pavilion one by one. Right before the event was set to start, a protestor was being escorted out of the building and an entire section of the arena erupted in a chant of “let them stay!” The Trump supporters rushed over to face the section of protestors and began to wave their signs and chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “Build a wall.”

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Supporters gather around the stage waiting for Trump.

A few minutes later the, loudspeaker announced that the rally would be cancelled and the section of protestors went crazy in celebration. The building was filled with yelling and chaos as the protestors and Trump supporters collected in the middle of the arena. Chants flew back and forth, protestors ripped up Trump signs, and arguments turned into fistfights. At some point a Trump supporter got up on stage and started to chant “Trump” into the microphone. Soon after, a protestor got on stage and ripped up a Trump sign, and was carried off the stage by security guards. Fistfights and altercations erupted on the floor.

The lights were shut off and the loudspeaker told everyone to leave the building. People began to file out of the building and the fighting dissipated; as I exited the building, a police officer said, “thank you.” There were thousands of protestors outside the pavilion, police had blocked all of the roads, and there were four helicopters hovering in the sky.

I had expected to see some protesters at the rally, but nothing to this extent. I had heard that Trump rallies were somewhat rowdy, and I had heard stories of protestors being punched, but I never expected the rally to be cancelled due to unrest. I personally was disappointed because I had gone to the event to report on what trump had to say, and I never got that opportunity. Trump supporters were clearly upset that the amount of protestors at the event caused it to be cancelled, and that may have increased the amount of violence. I think canceling the rally was unfair to the many Trump supporters who had been waiting in line since nine or ten in the morning, and never got to hear Trump give his speech.

The incident highlights the topic of freedom of speech, because both Donald Trump and the protestors had the right to express their opinion. In my opinion, the protesters outside of the building were rightly expressing their freedom of speech. On the other hand, the protestors inside the building were disruptive in a private event to the point that they infringed on Donald Trump’s freedom of speech. However, many protestors believed that they were doing the right thing by stopping Trump from being able to speak.

I woke up the next morning and saw a picture from the rally on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and realized that I witnessed a part of history. Even though the event was cancelled, it was a memorable night for everyone there.