On Wednesday, Donald Trump, the 2016 presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, held a rally in Midtown. With Atlanta being a cultural hub where many progressive and liberal views are valued, the controversial candidate was not well-received by all. While many in support of Trump showed up for the ticketed event held at the Fox Theatre, across the street stood a conglomeration of protesters, all of whom had something to say to Trump and his supporters.
Arriving at the event, conflict was already brewing at the entrance to the Fox Theatre. Though the event registration and tickets stated “no dress code,” those wearing shirts that displayed their opposition to Trump, advocacy for other candidates or even “Black Lives Matter” were denied admission into the rally.
Of those turned away, some said they felt they were being discriminated against for their clothing choice, political preference or even race. Ben Simonds-Malmaud, 19, was denied admission because he donned a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. After being turned away once, Malmaud said, “I left and came back with my ticket which said that there was no dress code and was told no again, so I didn’t stay to argue.”
Outside of the rally was 16-year-old black Trump supporter Quay Manuel. With statements such as, “We’re going to bomb the living s**t out of ISIS” and “I think he [Trump] is a man of his word,” Manuel was not well-received by anti-Trump protesters.
In response to seeing Manuel support Donald Trump, protester Vance West said, “It’s very disturbing. I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Another unidentified protester, who held a sign that read “Love Trumps Hate,” reacted to Manuel and other pro-Trump youth, stating, “It’s part of our country; we get to talk about how we really feel. It’s a part of free speech — it’s the good with the bad. I’d rather they maybe learn a little bit more about the policies and what’s happened in history, because he’s scary to me.”
In response to the anti-Trump protesters, Manuel stated, “I think they’re freaking idiots, bigots and they are here for no reason.”
Dre Propst argued with Manuel, stating, “Malcolm X died for you.”
In response, Manuel spat, “Malcolm X didn’t die for me. He was a Muslim.”
When asked why he did not support Trump, Propst answered, “He divides people.”
Other anti-Trump protesters, such as Vance West, held signs that read: “Mr. Trump, you are no friend to the LGBT community” in response to Trump declaring that he was “a better friend to the LGBT community” during his speech on Monday, which addressed the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando last Sunday.
In reference to Trump’s beliefs and speeches, a protester named Khalid, who wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt and a Pride Flag button said, “It’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and it’s the belief that the country belongs to some people and doesn’t belong to other people. It attracts the same kind of disenfranchised, working-class people that Adolf Hitler attracted.”
It was a shared belief among the protesters that Trump’s rhetoric is harmful to the United States, and they were not afraid to voice their opinions. As one protester’s sign read: “Trump is THE biggest threat to the US. #StopTrump,” and another sign hung from the Ponce Condominiums, blowing in the wind, read simply: “F**K TRUMP.”