Bernie Fans This Hillary Fan Supports
Ja’Mal Green, a prominent black activist and Bernie fan in Chicago, saw that Donald Trump was coming to the University of Illinois Chicago. Hundreds of protesters invaded Trump’s rally in Chicago while thousands more marched outside, leading the candidate to abruptly cancel the event due to safety concerns.
What made Chicago different were its scale and the organization behind the effort. Hundreds of young, largely black and brown people poured in from across the city, taking over whole sections of the arena and bracing for trouble.
Love This As A Hillary Supporter
While the Sanders’ campaign was not involved with the protest, repeated chants of “Ber-nie” demonstrated it was largely organized by Bernie fans. This is significant because the Democratic presidential candidate has struggled to win over black voters. If Bernie fans don’t win the Democratic presidential nomination, this anti-Trump effort in Chicago foreshadows a possible avenue for the movement in the general election for Democrats.
Remember the #TrumpRally wasn't just luck. It took organizers from dozens of organizations and thousands of people to pull off. Great work.
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) March 12, 2016
Bernie Fans, I Salute You
According to Alex Seitz-Wald, days before there was a meeting at UIC that overflowed with representatives of student groups from the Black Student Union to Fearless and Undocumented. A Facebook page explaining how to acquire tickets to the rally, complete with links, instructions on where and when to meet, and exhortations to remain peaceful, had more than 11,600 people RSVP, and another 19,000 said they were “interested.” Facebook’s analytics said the page reached more than 1.5 million users.
Jorge Mena Robles, a undocumented graduate student at UIC, started a petition on MoveOn.org calling on the school’s administration to cancel the event. The petition garnered more than 50,000 signatures, and once brass at MoveOn, caught wind of the UIC backlash, they chipped in money to get signs and a banner printed, and blasted out an email to members in the Chicago area encouraging them to join the protest. With just four days to plan, organizers said more than 1,000 students turned out for the march, along with thousands of community members.
Organizers who planned to disrupt the event from inside had designated multiple rallying points around the venue to avoid arousing suspicion of authorities with large congregations. Inside, about 100 protesters received coveted orange wristbands allowing them access to the floor.
Even as organizers tried to maintain calm, some scuffles with Trump fans started right away, and police began removing people. Secret Service agents recognized Green and pulled him outside, he said, but he quickly changed into a friend’s hoodie and slid back in.
The plan was to wait until Trump took the stage, then wait for the applause to die down and have all the protesters erupt at once. But they never made it that far. Instead of Trump, an official announced the event was canceled. Awesome.