Donald Trump brought in a capacity crowd of nearly 8,000 at a rally in North Carolina Friday night and was interrupted 10 times in his 45-minute speech. But the interruptions weren’t out of praise: the protestors were angry.
They strategically stormed the Raleigh, N.C., venue carrying signs that read “Stop the Hate, We Make America Great” and “Dump Trump,” while others chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
Trump’s statements about US ethnic and religious minorities have, from the beginning of his presidential campaign, often been bluntly critical. He called undocumented immigrants “rapists and criminals” and proposed that a wall be built between the US and Mexico, which greatly angered Latinos. Recently, Trump called for a registry to track Muslims in the US and retweeted inaccurate crime statistics on how blacks murder the majority of whites and called the behavior of the Black Lives Matter protestors “disgusting.”
Some suggest that Trump’s rhetoric sets a dangerous tone for the nation.
“When the leading [candidate] for one of the parties talks in an un-American, racist way, it starts to become mainstream. Racism can never become mainstream,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO told reporters at a recent breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
Trump’s views – which many suggest have encouraged other Republican candidates to speak more radically – have brought him success, however. He remains the top candidate among Republican voters, according to polls.
Much of Donald Trump’s campaign success has played on the “politics of fear,” followers who, according to The Atlantic, “disproportionately lack college degrees and are largely what Walter Russell Mead calls ‘Jacksonians.’”
America’s seventh President Andrew Jackson was known for his dogged isolationist policies. "Jacksonians love leaders who mercilessly squash America’s enemies without getting too entangled overseas," writes Peter Beinhart in The Atlantic:
Like McCarthy, Trump has responded to Americans’ fear of foreign threats by arguing that the real menace lies within. Since the Paris attacks, while the ‘serious’ GOP contenders have proposed establishing no-fly zones and arming Kurdish rebels in Syria, Trump has focused on registering Muslims and closing mosques in the U.S. while insisting that he watched thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrate 9/11.”
Trump’s ability to play into the politics of fear was confirmed after the Paris attacks, when support for him – and his strong anti-immigration stance on Syrian refugees – skyrocketed.
But some say that Friday’s rally in North Carolina may signal the beginning of a new campaign: a public backlash that has been largely visible only online is now manifesting in person.
The protestors were activists who planned the protest against Trump on Facebook. In total, they planned 10 separate interruptions in five-minute intervals, and strategically dispersed themselves all around the Dorton Arena at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Authorities removed about 25 protestors from the event, but no arrests were made.
CNN reported that Trump continued a recent effort to urge care with the handling of Friday night's protesters after an Alabama rally last month in which a Black Lives Matter protester was roughed up by the crowd.
"Make sure that young lady is in beautiful shape," Trump said after the first interruption.
But by the later interruptions, he urged security to deal with the individuals more quickly.
"Why don't you take them out the nearest door instead of walking them through the whole place?" he said after the eighth incident.
“Exactly what we planned is exactly what we got, a lot of news organizations are talking about the protests, about it being the largest to date.” Romain Stanley, one of the organizers, told CNN. “He was going on about refugees and hate speech, and I just took the opportunity when the crowd died down to call him a coward.”