Trump protesters vocal and passionate
Only one person was arrested at Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday in Grand Junction, though dozens of protesters were stationed outside the hangar where the candidate spoke and at least four people were removed from the rally.
Sloan Tucker, a 19-year-old Colorado Mesa University student, said she was arrested after a ruckus caused when the people around her in the rally started heckling her about her T-shirt.
Tucker had inched her way into the VIP section behind the stage where Trump stood at the podium, and was standing there with her 17-year-old friend, Alana Dodero, who attends Grand Junction High School. About 30 minutes into Trump’s speech, a ruckus caught his eye and he drew attention to the disturbance, asking if it was a protester being paid to disrupt the event. The crowd started to boo and people in the stands started yelling and pointing at the ruckus.
Tucker said the disturbance started with people standing near her who got in her face about the “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt she wore to the event.
What many people didn’t see was what happened when Trump turned and looked at the girls.
“I made eye contact with him and I said, ‘Hey Donald Trump, f*** you,’ ” Tucker said. “And that’s basically when I got escorted out.”
Other protesters were less noticeable in the crowd, or chose to stay in the “free speech zone” outside the security checkpoint.
Grand Junction residents Alexis Skeen, 17, and Sierra Garcia, 24, stood outside the rally with a sign advertising “free hugs,” and ended up having about 300 people take them up on the offer. Skeen was wearing a Jill Stein shirt and Garcia was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, which kept some Trump supporters from coming any closer.
Some people yelled, “Get a job!” or “Get off welfare!” but others accepted bottled water from them and gave hugs.
Although Skeen can’t vote yet, she came to the rally with her dad, 39-year-old Shane McDonnell, and said she felt it was important to send a peaceful message of unity.
“We’re all people, so we’re basically made of the same stuff,” Skeen said. “It’s hard to think that people would hate somebody else based on something so superficial as an opinion.”
Things were not as peaceful within the rally.
Tucker said she was “roughed up” as the security workers moved her through the crowd and that someone grabbed her throat at one point. Then she was handed off to police who told her she was being arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
As Tucker and Dodero were escorted away by security, the crowd started chanting, “USA! USA!” and Trump turned back to the podium.
“Can you believe they get paid for doing this, by the Democratic National Committee?” Trump said after they were dragged away.
“Oh, I’m sure their parents are very proud of them,” he added with a smirk.
Tucker said she doesn’t know what her parents will think, but she wants people to know she wasn’t paid to cause trouble at the rally and never intended for the incident to happen, but she doesn’t regret it.
“The only reason I wanted to go in the first place was I was trying to understand the hype,” she said. “I wasn’t there to incite violence.”
But on Tuesday night, she was still riding an adrenaline high from being dragged out of a political rally and was proud of the experience, because she’s thinking of a political future and this might be the start.
“I’m honestly kind of glad this happened,” Tucker said. “It was a really important experience for me to have.”