[Commentary] In Chicago, Trump got a dose of his own medicine
On Friday, March 11, Donald Trump and his supporters should have stayed at home, because his kind of activity doesn’t play well in “Gangster Town.”
I’m from Chicago all my life—for more than 60 years. I know a little bit about Chicago. I lived in public housing in Chicago. I attended 11 Chicago Public Schools. I have been threatened by street gangs in Chicago. I have been racially profiled by police in Chicago. I know this town and I love this town. Chicago is a tough little town. While I do not officially take political sides, I do report the news.
On Friday night, I received phone calls and emails from around the country asking me what happened at the Trump Rally. I was asked, “So what was Donald Trump thinking when he decided to bring his campaign rally to Chicago that included confronting and disrespecting people of ethnic descent? Did he think he was coming to North Carolina or Nevada?” Well, this is Chicago. Even the squirrels and the birds are tougher in Chicago!
Almost anyone, including the Chicago Police Department could have told him, “Mr. Trump, that kind of activity will not play well in Chicago.”
Now I am not proud of the fact that Chicago has more murders than any city in America. Actually, I’m ashamed of that fact. Nor am I proud of the fact that Chicago is possibly the most segregated city in America. Again, I am ashamed. But I also know the people of Chicago are no punks.
Mr. Trump and his followers had been belittling, bullying, beating and assaulting protesters in every city where they rallied. Trump followers, with his consent, had made it almost a game to toss out protesters from their rallies, with the support of security and police. Trump supporters would verbally abuse protesters, spit on them, push them and hit them. Trump told his supporters, “…just knock the crap out of them… knock the h—l (out of them)…I promise you, I will pay any legal fees”. Violence and threats of violence had become the high point of most Trump rallies.
In cities across America, timid protesters at Trump rallies became fewer and fewer, and more meek. Then we come to Chicago!
Chicago is known, for better or for worst, as a “Gangster Town.” I did not give it that title, but any town that has a movie named “Chiraq” after it, is one in which you might want to be a little careful. It is said about Chicago, either “come hard or stay at home”. On Friday, March 11, 2016, Mr. Trump and his supporters should have stayed at home.
As followers of Trump streamed into the UIC Pavilion for the rally, so did protesters. But not one or two protesters, but hundreds, possibly thousands. As Trump supporters began their pre-rally hijinks, so did protesters. Instead of one or two protesters being escorted out of the venue. Thousands of protesters went toe-to-toe, and sometimes fist-for-fist, with Trump supporters, and dared police to escort them out of the stadium.
In fact, they gave Trump supporters a taste of their own medicine, and more. They even took over the rally floor, tore up Trump signs, and chanted. “Bernie, Bernie” and “We Shut S— Down”. That is what I call “real gangster!”
Trump and Trump supporters were stun. Trump said that the police told him to cancel the rally. Chicago police reported, “We told him to go ahead with the rally” because they have seen much worse than this.
Thousands more protesters were outside the arena and challenged Trump supporters that were leaving the canceled rally. Trump and Trump supporters, who recently insulted and tossed out a Muslim woman from a rally in South Carolina, Rose Hamid, who wore a shirt that read, “I Come In Peace”, cried foul about their Chicago reception. Trump said that his followers were “mistreated” by the protesters
The good news is the actions of these protesters will help ensured that Trump rallies in the future will be different. Trump and his supporters do not ever want to see another Chicago-styled protest. Remembering Ms. Hamid’s shirt, the Trump announcer said as he canceled the Chicago rally, “Please go in peace!”
Phillip is a social activist and educator.