April 5, 2016
By Natalie Rodriguez
Opponents and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump confronted each other at the UIC Pavilion last month, with several Dominican students there to bare witness. The city has recently become a nationwide topic of conversation after the cancelation of Trump’s rally. Donald Britton and student Leticia Vargas attended the event. Britton went to the planned Trump rally to support the candidate and Vargas went to protest.
“There were people down there looking for fights, there were people provoking each other,” Britton said. “I think more people went because of the situation that was going on from it than actually going to peacefully protest. I think a lot of people did not go there with the desire to peacefully protest I think more people went there wanting to look for confrontation wanting to essentially scare him from coming in which is what happened at the end of it.”
Britton was unable to enter the Pavilion and waited outside.
After several hours of people waiting to hear the candidate speak, Trump cancelled his rally. Britton believes that the rally’s cancelation incited the crowd into more confrontations.
“I became more irritated,” Britton said. “I think the majority of people there, regardless of which side you were on, were. Them canceling is when I would say more anger, more yelling, more pushing started. Like I said, I like Trump. A lot of people there wanted to see him. It’s freedom of speech. He has the right to say whatever it is he wants to say. There were protesters there that their goal was to stop this. At this point I feel like they infringed on his amendment rights to have his speech.”
Junior Leticia Vargas was also present at the rally but she said she was there in solidarity with anti-Trump protesters. Like Britton, she was unable to enter the Pavilion. She did, however, disagree with Britton on the overall atmosphere of the event.
“There were a lot of protesters, maybe a thousand or more,” Vargas said. “It was actually really peaceful. We were just chanting there in protest, I didn’t see any violence…we weren’t really threatening anyone we were just saying what we believed.”
She also disagreed with Britton about whether protesters denied Trump his freedom of speech.
“I don’t think that his freedom of speech was taken away because he was the one who decided to cancel his own rally,” Vargas said. “And I think that if he would’ve gone with the rally, I think that the protester’s plan was to stand in a circle around his stage in a peaceful circle and I don’t think it would’ve escalated to violence. The protesters didn’t go there to be violent; they went there to be peaceful. And I don’t think that being a peaceful protester stops anyone’s freedom of speech from saying what they believe.”
The First Amendment protects both speakers and protesters from suppression by the government. Trump rallies have attracted protesters, some of whom have protested silently. Many have been kicked out of the rallies, some violently. Britton is bothered by the presence of protesters and believes they shouldn’t be at the events.
“I would say that for me personally, that would irritate me,” Britton said. “Do they have the right to do it? Yes. I think is it wrong to throw them out, yeah, but then I also feel like you shouldn’t be going to those events, to go in there to cause a disruption. I think they’re doing it for attention at that point. I think legally you can do it but I don’t agree with it personally. I really kind of get irritated with those types of people that do that because there are several issues that I don’t agree with for several other political candidates that I can’t stand. I don’t go to their rallies to do it.”
He continued saying, “I would never go to a Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton rally and support Trump publically inside of it. So yeah, they have a right to do it. Do I think that he should throw them out? I think that’s kind of his prerogative but I don’t know, legally, how it breaks down.”