Trump’s rally remains docile despite an air of hostility
The city of Rochester was gridlocked in contrasting feelings of excitement and dread as President Donald Trump held a “Make America Great Again” rally on Oct. 4 at the Mayo Civic Center ahead of midterm elections next month.
It was a cold autumn morning as I drove into Rochester and I could sense a strange vibe wafting over the city. It seemed as if everyone was on edge or in some sort of angered hurry. Even the cashier at the gas station wouldn’t look me in the eyes.
I caught wind of a gathering at Soldier’s Field Park protesting Trump’s arrival in Rochester and headed over to see what interesting events could unfold.
I stepped out of my car and walked to the assembly area of the Greater Than Fear rally gathered near the monument in the park. Just a few short blocks away thousands were lined up waiting for their chance to gain entrance to the Civic Center and see the President himself.
I approached the perimeter of the crowd waiting to participate in the march and could see it was a diverse collection of people sporting everything from handmade signs, traditional clothing from their native countries and even the quintessential Minnesotan look of a light jacket and cargo shorts.
From the amount of signs they carried, it was clear they meant business and were ready to march together through the streets; but not in any mean or militant sense.
The march was considered a non-engagement event, and participants had no intention to disrupt the rally or engage supporters in any manner. It was more a gathering of a community wanting their voice heard than a politically-charged protest.
The marchers kicked off their stroll up S. Broadway Street at noon and made their way towards the Civic Center, receiving supportive honks from commuters and angry chants from Trump supporters on the sidewalks.
They stopped just two blocks from the Trump rally and blocked an intersection which they held for nearly 30 minutes. After they drew a crowd themselves, the marchers turned back to Soldier’s Field.
It looked as if the marchers were having a good time; smiles on their faces and their chants growing louder as they approached the end of their journey. I left the event, camera still in-hand, feeling a bit energized myself.
But it was time to head to the Civic Center and into the heart of all the busyness engulfing Rochester.
I walked to the Civic Center a few blocks away and could see the lines of people snaking around city blocks and red hats dotting nearly every one of their heads. Like the Greater Than Fear rally, it was a diverse crowd made up of people who I imagined came from all over the Midwest.
However, most of them stood quietly, smoking and chatting amongst themselves. Some of them gave me strange looks as I photographed their faces.
It was a much different atmosphere than the march I had covered only a few hours earlier. But all of this soon changed as participants from the march began to show up and stand on street corners with their signs in-hand.
For the most part, the supporters in line seemed to ignore the protesters, but as time passed some began yelling and trying to ignite a response. The closer that time drew to Trump’s arrival, more and more of them seemed to be on edge; occasionally glancing over their shoulders and frowning at chanting protesters. It appeared to me that they felt as if their experience had somehow been tainted.
Ahead of the event, the White House had issued too many tickets for the rally and the building couldn’t compensate the amount of spectators. Some would have to wait and watch from the giant television outside the building.
Once the doors were sealed and the President walked on stage, the crowd gathered under the giant television erupted in cries of excitement, rebel, admiration and perhaps even grief.
Trump’s speech and rhetoric was similar to past rallies, but he spoke of his support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, republican candidates in Minnesota’s hotly contested 1st Congressional District and his disdain for his Democrat critiques.
But with every line and sentence Trump spoke, supporters cheered and protesters booed as they waved signs, but they all seemed to ignore one another. Almost as if they had come to accept each other’s presence, or they were too caught up by the person speaking to them on the screen.
In all, although peaceful, Trump’s rally had an air of hostility and uneasiness to it. A certain cult of personality hung in the air that encompassed supporters and critics alike. And every one of them was drawn there by some strange longing to see the President in their own light and opinions.
Feature photo by Gage Cureton | MSU Reporter.