At his North Carolina rally Friday, Donald Trump was interrupted by protesters – not once, not twice, but 10 times. Shouting various messages one after the other, Trump's detractors, it seems, were not part of one organized group. More than two dozen people were ushered to leave the stadium of about 7,000.
Mr. Trump may be the frontrunner among the GOP candidates, but he’s also the most polarizing. According to a September ABC News poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans view him unfavorably.
Unsurprisingly, Trump's supporters in Raleigh, N.C., were none too happy with the disruption. It has been reported that some audience members shoved the protesters and ripped up their signs. One demonstrator tweeted that he was accosted by the rally goers around him before security escorted him out.
"Forcibly removed from #trump rally. Trump supporters kicked me, grabbed my neck, pushed me, and more all while security jacks me up. Awful," Romain Stanley tweeted.
The first protests were what supporters called “rude behavior,” to which Trump was gracious. “Be very nice to the protester,” Trump said to the crowd after he was interrupted just five minutes into his speech.
In another instance, two women held up sign that read “Stop the hate. We make America great.” Trump supporters were quick to confront them as soon as they began chanting. One woman even went as far as to grab the signs and rip them up.
“If I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble, I would have pulled their hair or I would have punched them, but I don’t want to get in trouble,” the woman, who declined to give her name, told The New York Times after the event.
As his interruptions intensified, Trump used the opportunity to talk about the extreme partisanship of the nation, blaming President Barack Obama and addressing Democrats in trying to convince them to join his cause. "Look at what happens. Our country is so divided. There's hatred between people. We want to bring it together," he said.
"If I could speak to these four people,” Trump said of the protesters, “I'd say, 'Look, you may be a Democrat, you may be a liberal, who cares, we're going to make our country strong, we're going to make it good.'”
"I really think I could talk sense into them,” he added.
But the interruptions kept on coming. A sizable group was composed of Black Lives Matter activists, who chanted their eponymous message. Here, Trump used the moment to antagonize Mr. Obama, calling him a “great divider” instead of a much-needed “cheerleader.” But by his eighth interruption, Trump was visibly rattled. He spoke for only 30 minutes before leaving the stage.
Since the emergence of the broader Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the deaths of young black men across the country, its loose base of affiliates have been an active presence at political events, primarily through protest. Earlier this year, two Black Lives Matter activists shut down a Bernie Sanders event before the progressive candidate had a chance to speak.
Two months later, the Senator from Vermont and Black Lives Matter reconciled; he sat down with a group of activists to formulate his racial justice platform.
At a Hillary Clinton event in August, Black Lives Matter protesters were barred from entering but later invited to a closed-doors meeting with the Democratic frontrunner. She too has taken heed to their requests, such as rejecting campaign contributions from private prisons.
Black Lives Matter protesters have even been able to garner the support of Republicans. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said on NewsOne last month that Republicans would participate in forums with the activists “if we were smart.”
“They are drawing attention to issues that need to be drawn to,” Mr. Paul said.