Chant “Free Speech Sucks”
Protesters have been interrupting quite a few Trump events of late, but none were as “successful” as the one in Chicago. That multi-pronged, organized and coordinated protest, covered by Professor Jacobson, actually shut down the event. The progressive left is hailing this as a victory, so we are sure to see more of the same at future Trump events, and because it’s perceived as a “victory,” at the events of other Republican candidates before too long. Professor Jacobson also discusses this slippery slope in another post.
One report from a Politico writer explains how the organizer and some of his classmates felt in the minutes before the event was cancelled and as the students prepared for their disruption.
Just 50 feet in front of the podium where Trump was scheduled to appear at any moment, Nathaniel Lewis, a 25-year-old African-American graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, had established a beachhead of sorts: a pocket of about three dozen college students and activists. They were ready, too.
What Lewis and dozens of his UIC classmates had planned was perhaps bigger—and better organized—than any protest Trump had faced to date. It had been a week in the making, and now everyone was in place: with roughly 2,500 on the street outside and hundreds more inside, including dozens working directly with Lewis. As they waited, the crowd growing loud around them, a few were starting to feel doubts about what they were hoping to do.
. . . . In the moment, standing next to them, I could understand what she was worried about. I was just there to watch, but I could feel it myself. The protesters, mostly black and Latino and young, were standing shoulder to shoulder with the people that their protest would upset most. The crowd was white—all of them—sporting “Hillary for Prison” and “Bomb the Hell out of ISIS” pins, wearing camouflage ball caps, hunter orange, and N.R.A. gear, and shouting for their candidate, who was late, but coming, surely coming.
But their well-laid plans threatened to come to naught when the event was abruptly cancelled.
The plan was straightforward. Once Trump began speaking, Lewis would begin sending messages to the groups around the hall—and, so prompted, they would each stand up, chanting, and disrupt the speech. It would then build to a crescendo: right there, in front of Trump’s podium. Lewis and the other protesters in front were going to link up—“arm in arm,” he instructed the students around him—and make their presence known in a silent, but conspicuous, circle. “It will speak louder,” Lewis said, “than anybody who interrupts Trump’s speeches.”
They never got that chance. Just after 6:30 p.m. on Friday, a Trump official appeared on stage and abruptly told the crowd that the event was off. Trump would not be appearing. The crowd was shocked; the protesters spontaneously erupted in cheers.
That, of course, was not the end of the story. From there, the stadium erupted.
“Please go in peace,” the official told the crowd from the stage Friday night.
And that was the exact moment when the violence began, pitting Trump supporters against protesters, whites against blacks. An event—teetering on the edge until that moment, but still calm—devolved quickly into an angry scrum, and Lewis and his fellow students found themselves in the middle of it. They were standing near the podium where the candidate would not be appearing—with an increasingly angry crowd around them that knew exactly who had prevented Donald Trump from showing up.
“Stay together!” Lewis urged his fellow protesters.
As this was the stated goal of the protests, to shut down Trump, you’d think they would have been elated, but it seems they were merely frustrated.
Watch video from inside the venue, in which the protesters chanted “Free Speech Sucks“:
The incident at the Trump rally began during a meeting of campus leaders who were unhappy that Trump was allowed to speak on their campus.
The unlikely journey to the floor at the Trump rally had begun four nights earlier in a lecture hall on campus at UIC. The first meeting drew about 100 students, many of them campus leaders frustrated that their college had decided to host the Trump rally at all. They launched a “Stop Trump” Facebook page, and, over the weekend, the page had drawn about a thousand likes.
. . . . At that first meeting on Monday . . . finding consensus on an actual protest plan sputtered in the lecture hall. “People had too many agendas,” UIC student Brian Geiger said later. “We didn’t get much accomplished.” There were supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and even one guy in a Ted Cruz shirt, but the students were intent on keeping the protest nonpartisan.
Students couldn’t agree how—or where—to protest. Angry over recent news of activists being physically assaulted at Trump events, some felt they shouldn’t be passive if attacked on Friday night. But others like Geiger—an African-American senior majoring in political science and an honors student at UIC—countered that non-violence was the only approach they could take. Anything else, he said, would reflect badly on them, the university and the cause. “What I’m fearful of,” he said, “is folks who are coming to this campus and want to start violence. That’s what scares me.”
Concerned about their personal safety, the students apparently landed on the plan to “march” both within the actual venue and outside it where protests are more expected: some linking arms while silently standing in a circle as described above, others actually “marching” in the crowded venue while “peacefully chanting,” and still others ready to be arrested.
They color-coded their roles in the disruption as described by Politico:
Still, everyone in the room knew they were taking risks, which the students categorized by color to make the stakes plain. “Peacemakers,” folks on the edge of the march, were green, with little risk of problems. Marchers and those going inside were yellow and could be detained. “That doesn’t mean you’ll be charged,” Rojas clarified. “But you are acknowledging that you have that risk and you’re okay with that.” Red was the final category.
“What does red do?” an African-American female student asked.
“You’re at the front of the march,” Rojas told her. Or inside the event itself, prepared to disrupt it with peaceful chanting. “You’re at risk of being arrested,” Geiger said, putting it another way.
Watch confrontations with police outside the Chicago venue:
So far, there have been four arrests associated with this protest.
Prosecutors charged three Chicago men and a Michigan woman who were involved in protests outside Friday’s canceled rally for Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump.
. . . . Sergio Giraldo, 23, of the 1900 block of West Argyle Street, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer, a felony count of resisting and obstructing a peace officer and two misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer.
Sohaan Goss, 21, of the 10600 block of South Langley Avenue, was charged with a felony count of aggravated battery to a peace officer and five misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing a peace officer.
Timothy Bradford, 32, of the 100 block of West Adams Street, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing a peace officer.
Kathleen Griffin, 45, of the 17200 block of South Rains Island Road in Barbeau, Michigan, was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing a peace officer.
What is particularly interesting—and disturbing—about this incident is that it was born of the recent trend of college students demanding that people with whom they disagree be disinvited to campus functions; the most recent example that comes to mind was the incident in which Ben Shapiro was banned from speaking at California State University.
Watch protesters brag about “stopping Trump” in Chicago:
“Safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and the protests and petitions to have conservative speakers—and others such as Trump—removed are all of the same in terms of progressives, as Laurel put it, saying to those with whom they disagree, “Shut up!”