2 Rallies, 1 Personal Perspective
By Ingrid Alva
The minute I heard Donald Trump was coming to Long Island, I decided to attend the rally because I wanted to witness one firsthand. I went with two friends from school, another friend from Hofstra University and her parents.
When I arrived at the Hicksville train station to take a shuttle to Bethpage, I realized I was one of the few minorities attending. I started to worry about my safety. There was an elderly lady who stood out in the crowd. She wondered what exact time Donald Trump was supposed to appear on stage and said, “If he doesn’t appear on time, I am not going to vote for him!” I found it funny, and she made me feel less tense.
The shuttle itself was overcrowded, and my friends and I had to share seats. After we arrived, not a single person said “thank you” to the driver. While walking about a mile to the venue, I noticed there were four men on the roof, two on each side. Each of them had either a shotgun or binoculars. I was carrying a purse and it was searched. As I entered the building, there were lines of people waiting to pass through security.
Inside, people were standing at least an inch away from each other, and the only accessible amount of air was coming in through the back doors. While we were waiting for Donald Trump to appear, many racist, hateful, and discriminatory comments were said. At one point, a group of teenage boys was standing behind my friends and me. One of them said, “There isn’t going to be an assassination today because there are no colored people here.” My jaw dropped. I wanted to leave right away.
Shortly after, more and more people started to appear and the hall became even more crowded. After a while, Trump’s campaign manager spoke. Protesters started to emerge, but were removed from the building immediately while onlookers shouted obscenities at them. Ivanka Trump appeared and gave a speech before introducing her father. The teenage boy who was standing behind us started to record her speech, extending his arm over my friend’s head. Feeling a little uncomfortable, my friend decided to step back to try to make more space. The boy responded in a disrespectful manner yelling, “Stop moving, faggot!” Then he pushed her into our other friend.
After Donald Trump appeared, so did more protesters. They were removed immediately while Trump was screaming, “Get them out of here!” One Trump supporter screamed, “Go home to your mother and tell her she’s ugly!” When the last of the protesters was removed, the same man screamed, “And kick Hillary in the uterus!” At that moment, I didn’t want to be there anymore. I was not only offended, but also terrified. After about ten minutes, we decided to leave.
These comments were something the media doesn’t often portray while showing footage of a Trump rally. The media often limits its coverage of these rallies to the amount of people cheering in the front rows. There were no cameras or news reporters near us to actually witness these hateful and racist comments.
One week later, I went to a Bernie Sanders rally in New York City. I decided to try a social experiment that I learned about on social media in which a guy gave out free hugs to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters at each of their rallies. Since I couldn’t get into the rally because it was full, I walked around Washington Square Park giving and receiving hugs from various people. This time I went to the rally by myself and I was a bit frightened since it was my first time being alone in New York City. People were very sweet and nice to me. During the entire night, there was only one man who made a rude comment after I approached him and asked for a hug. Other than that, people were complimenting me and taking pictures with me. Two young Muslim girls approached me and asked what other activist groups I was in, and we discussed why I was giving out hugs to people. After the rally was over, I saw a man and his friends with a “free hugs” poster as well. I ran towards him and we hugged. We both took pictures and he told me about his activist group, Free Hugs NYC. It was such a moving moment, and I’m glad to have had this experience.
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