By Jim Bowman
Walking out of the canceled Trump appearance at the UIC Pavilion, I passed a police officer standing at the door, one of dozens at the event. Protestors were filing out too, shouting slogans. I looked at the officer, she looked at me, and a grimace was all it took, between us, to register our mutual impatience if not disgust at these people.
Earlier, our waiting for Trump was interrupted by an announcement that from my seat in the upper deck, next to a couple slightly younger than I who had helped me get to my seat without tipping over, I could hardly make out.
Asking around, I learned that Trump wasn't coming. A big roar had accompanied the announcement. I thought wow, did Cruz withdraw or something? Nope, it was the Bernie people roaring their approval.
They materialized as if out of nowhere at the end of the main floor, probably 100 or so, massed together, yelling out "Bernie, Bernie." By then, even from my perch above, it was clear that they had arrived to break up the rally, which they did.
"Nazi youth movement," I told a friend whom I had called. Well, calm though I was, I'd gotten a little in the exaggerating mode. Before I left the main entrance to the ouside, walking down to the main-floor concourse, I'd passed a tall, skinny white kid wearing a t-shirt with writing he'd put there himself with magic marker or something like it, "White people, racism hurts us all."
He stood there as we walked past, his back to a wall, just looking, as if he wanted us to see his t-shirt with its writing. A few Trump supporters, young white guys, gave a fuckin' this or that and were angry at his type having driven their man away. They pointed fingers at him but made no move. He walked away.
More walking on the concourse, and a scuffle broke out but was over right away. With others I walked out (past the police woman) on to the street, where we faced other signs far less noble than what we'd seen:
"No Trump." "Let me see your dick." "Small hands, small dick." (Rubio has to regret that exchange which he started.) And other signs there were, in the crowd in the middle of the street, far more than we who filed past them on the sidewalk, many of us on our way to the Blue Line station a half block away.
These were college students making noise and not much else. Watching TV when I got home, Blue Line to Clark bus, the bus to Andersonville, I saw brief fistfights — a few, over and over, by the way — but on the scene, let's say it was easy to be there and see almost nothing of the sort.
One scuffle that was played a lot on TV was of a guy on the stage. That was something we could see him from the upper deck, him trying to get to the mike, struggling with two men trying to hustle him off the stage. Playing to his audience, he was.
As for Trump not showing, seeing the size of the anti-Trump group, and if I said 100, maybe more like 200, I cannot imagine Trump being able to speak. Hustling that many out would have made it ridiculous for anyone to do anything but listen to the "Bernie, Bernie" chants.
It was a setup, in other words. A mob had taken over the rally, disrupting it beyond repair. Trump afterwards told Hannity that the police would have surely have done their duty but that he saw it would be messy indeed (my word) and might have gotten very bad indeed.
All in all, police were very patient, and besides a few nasties, the violence seemed to be very much contained. Not bad for a college campus, where students increasingly feel entitled, even obliged, to disrupt what they disagree with. Now that's why I thought Nazis at first, come to think of it.
Answer Book 2018
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