Chicago, March 11 — Donald Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, sexist, right-wing rhetoric has been met with powerful, organized protests both inside and outside of nearly every one of his major campaign events.
While demonstrators have been able to cut his talks short through disruption and civil disobedience, tonight was the first time the movement was able to completely prevent him from speaking, forcing Trump to cancel his campaign rally in Chicago.
This protest, as has been the case in various cities, was organized and led by youth of color. Black and Brown young people are leading the movement against Trump, white supremacy and bigotry.
As Cruz Rodriguez, a member of DePaul University’s Students for Justice in Palestine — and one of the students in my group that I took direction from — said on Facebook after the rally: “This movement was led by students of color — all the way! We did not endorse any other presidential candidate. We organized to take a stand against the rise of white fascism and white supremacy across the United States! BLACK and BROWN power came together to shut down a white supremacist! … THE REVOLUTION WILL GO ON!”
Youth participated from many organizations
I arrived at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion at 3:30 p.m. and met up with Cruz and other students, some of whom I had not met before, in the line to go inside. For weeks leading up to the event, groups came together online and in person to organize efforts to shut down the rally.
This was not my first time disrupting a Trump rally from the inside. Back in December, many progressives, including multiple members of Workers World Party, organized disruptions both inside and outside of the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Many of the same tactics and efforts were used here in Chicago to successfully shut down Trump’s white supremacist rhetoric.
While in line, I spoke with some Trump supporters near me who assumed I was there with the same motivation as them. A concerned mother spoke to me about her support of “the wall” Trump wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico. As the line moved, a crowd of anti-Trump demonstrators across the street grew in number. As a protester walked by with a sign reading “TRUMP = RACIST,” the family in front of me turned and said, “How can we be racist when you are in line? These protesters don’t know anything.” I am an immigrant from Ghana, and it took all the self-control I had not to blow my cover.
Unlike in Raleigh, where we had to blend into the crowd or risk being preemptively kicked out, it became evident very early that many of us in the Pavilion were there to shut Trump down. I was inspired and energized by the presence of youth — from Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Students Association, Black Youth Project, Assata’s Daughters, Fearless Undocumented Alliance and other organizations.
Struggle against white supremacy victorious
Of course, I worried for our safety as reactionary supporters grew weary of the growing number of disruptions, as well as the wait time. Many of us were inside the Pavilion for over two hours before we learned that the rally was “postponed.”
During that time, many of the demonstrators held disruptions by yelling chants and ripping up Trump signs. One reactionary began yelling at one of our people, and we all, as a collective, chanted “KICK HIM OUT!” until he was eventually removed by police. Once it was announced that the rally was cancelled due to “security concerns,” we all rushed onto the floor of the Pavilion, chanting “WE SHUT IT DOWN!” in celebration of our victory.
Outside, student groups led marches and speeches for hours, bringing together youth, students and community members who not only wanted to deny Trump a platform for his rhetoric, but to make connections between his narratives and institutionalized racism in Chicago.
Local movements have focused their efforts on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney for Cook County Anita Alvarez, who worked together to cover up the multiple shooting of Laquan McDonald by police in 2014. Alvarez waited 13 months to release video footage of the murder and prosecute killer cop Jason Van Dyke.
Chicago police occupied the streets with the ruse of protecting Trump supporters. Yet the organized protest could not be stopped. Marches continued into the evening, and sections of the protest were able to block the parking garage that Trump supporters were vacating.
At one point, many of his supporters taunted us from the upper levels of the garage, but they knew, just as we did, that they had lost. Their bigotry and white supremacist rhetoric are not welcome in Chicago.
While this was a victory, we cannot stop here. Youth of color will continue to be at the forefront of the movement against sexism, racism, homophobia and anti-immigrant bigotry!