Photo courtesy of Eddie Poe
Four days ago on Wednesday, August 31, GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was here in Phoenix to present a speech at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was his first trip to Arizona since claiming the nomination at the GOP Convention in July.
Ironically, it was also the same day that he visited Mexico to take part in a press conference with Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto.
As part of an assignment for the Cronkite School, I had the opportunity to make an appearance at the rally. As a journalist, I was full of anticipation but as a human being, I was genuinely terrified. I could have attended the rally but I knew where the true action was going to be taking place — outside the rally.
I had my foregone notions as to what the scene of this event was going to be like, but in all honesty, it was one that left me mentally exhausted and bewildered by the end of the night.
Within the first hour of doors opening, protestors were chanting “Trump is Hate” while Trump supporters responded with chants of “USA!”
One unique Trump supporter was lugging a large cross around, telling protestors that they were killing children. An argument between the man and protestors ended up with him storming off, shouting “there is no arguing with the slaughtering of fetuses!”
Trump protestors gathered around a group of dancers and drummers dressed in brightly colored headdresses. They performed traditional indigenous dances from Mexico, and a man ocassionally blew into a conch shell to create a horn like sound.
Across the street, in front of the side entrance of the convention center, Trump supporters looked on in disgust and frequently yelled obscenities.
Protestors also set up large inflatable figures of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Trump. The Arpaio inflatable was dressed in jail clothes, and the Trump one wore a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Trump supporter or not, experiencing this first-hand was an intensely grave reminder of just how dangerous and vile this election cycle has become.