Opinion: Donald Trump and His Protesters

Brianna Baez, Staff Writer

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Recent activity at Donald Trump campaign rallies has led to violent confrontations with many protesters. To put it bluntly, these actions are unethical and downright un-American.  Trump supporters have been encouraged to take violent action against protesters at the request of the candidate himself.

In a rally that occurred in Las Vegas CNN captured live footage of Donald trump saying that he “longed for the good old days when a protester would be carried out on a stretcher.” He then precedingly continued to thrash on Ted Cruz by calling him a “liar” and “sick” With such encouragement like that, it’s no wonder that his supporters have been driven to such violent behavior.

One protester’s story is particularly interesting to me. After having security forcefully escort him out of a rally in Fayetteville, N.C. on March 9, Trump supporter John McGraw punched a protester in the face. According to a CNN source, McGraw continued his violent streak by saying, “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Police later charged McGraw with assault.

Suppressing protesters with violent actions is done in countries with oppressive regimes, places where freedom of speech is truly not a reality. People protest in these countries under fear of great bodily harm, but they do still protest.

This is the irony of the situation — Trump supporters, who claim to be victims of their First Amendment rights being violated — are in turn violating the free speech rights of protesters. While the Trump supporters like to wrap themselves in the flag and say they are true Americans, by their actions, they show they are far from true Americans that cherish freedom of expression.

When confronted with these actions, Trump has said that “The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America” in a tweet that was shortly following his rally in Chicago. Chanting back to protesters with differing opinions is one thing, but perpetuating violence against them is another.

As a student who greatly believes in expressing the First Amendment, I find these views hypocritical by some of the Trump supporters. Protesters should be allowed to voice their opinions peacefully and without any unnecessary violence.

Candidates such as Senator Bernie Sanders, who deals with protesters and activists without such violence, gets viewed as “weak” in the eyes of Trump. Two Black Lives Matter activists took over the mic during one of Sanders’s recent speeches in Seattle. “That would never happen to me,” commented Trump during a rally in Birch Run Michigan. “I thought it was disgusting. That showed such weakness.”

The problem here lies within the Trump campaign itself. Some may argue that protesters and activists prevent what a rally is truly for. While this may be true, it’s very important to listen to an opposing voice. If this is the way the Trump campaign is being treated, then I greatly question what will happen if Trump wins the election. If he really “wants to make America great again,” then changes need to be made now.