On March 11, the people of Chicago dealt a tremendous defeat to the forces of white supremacy, Islamophobia, bigotry and right wing proto-fascism. Thousands of students, workers and youth representing the diverse make-up of the city came out to show that Donald Trump’s brand of hatred will not only be challenged, but shut down wherever it rears its ugly head.
Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination, had planned to hold a rally on Friday at the University of Illinois in Chicago. His rallies have been characterized not only by the noxious rhetoric of racism and white nationalism, but in several instances direct acts of violence against those in attendance, especially people of color, who attempt to challenge his demagoguery.
It was these concerns which prompted students to first ask the University to not allow Trump to speak on their campus. However, once it became clear that the university valued Trump’s money over student welfare and would not budge on the issue, plans were made for a massive action of resistance against Trump and his ideas.
By early Friday afternoon protesters were already assembling in large groups around the event pavilion in order to be in place by the rally’s planned 6:00 p.m. start time. A large student-organized contingent gathered at 4:00 p.m. in the campus quad a few blocks from the site of the rally.
Student speakers spoke of the direct effect that Trump’s proposed policies would have on them. Undocumented students decried how Trump’s immigration policies would break up families and subject children to deportations and hardship. Muslim students spoke of the effects that Trump’s hateful rhetoric has had on their lives, and the necessity of standing together in order to beat back Islamophobia in Chicago and everywhere else.
While Trump has certainly distinguished himself with the content and delivery of his message, it was pointed out that he is still symptomatic of the larger U.S. political system which is already engaged in deportation, racist murder and imperialist wars around the globe.
“Trump wants to build a wall, but America is a nation of walls already,” said student and Black Youth Project 100 member Ethos. The message of solidarity and affinity between those fighting for liberation in Palestine and in the U.S. was a central theme of the speeches.
Trump’s hateful campaign, in attempting to divide and attack so many has instead resulted in a deepening of the understanding of the commonalities that exist between different oppressed communities, not only here in the US, but around the globe. In the words of a speaker from the University’s Black Student Union, “Stopping Trump is our unity.”
At 4:45 the group, which had swelled to thousands began marching to the event location, swiftly taking the city streets and filling the air with loud and enthusiastic chants, including: “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and “Sin papeles; sin miedo!’ The cops attempted to block the march’s progress and divert it away from the pavilion, but when faced with thousands of determined protesters, they had no choice but to let the march through, which then continued down the street spreading its message of anti-racism and solidarity.
Outside the venue the cops once more tried to corral and box in protesters, preventing the people from taking the intersection outside the venue, but once more the police were powerless to reign in the will of the people. Nonetheless, a large contingent of mounted police set up barricades immediately outside the venue and protected the Trump rally from the people. Despite thrown objects, slurs, and even blatant Nazi salutes from Trump’s racist supporters, the police directed all their efforts and attention against the united protesters.
Seeing how the police blatantly protected private property and the interests of the monied above the people only served to galvanize the crowd to greater militancy. They continued to wave banners and present a solid and united front against Trump.
Meanwhile, another thousand protesters had obtained tickets and were making their way inside the event in order to directly confront Trump with their message of solidarity and unity.
A half hour after the scheduled 6 p.m. start time, it became clear that protesters both within and outside the arena were united and determined. Trump, unwilling to face those whom he has slandered, insulted and used as scapegoats during his reactionary campaign, canceled the rally to the victorious cries of the people inside and out.
As news of Trump’s retreat spread across the assembled crowds outside, cheers went up and chants of “We stopped Trump!” and “Who’s city? Our city!” rang through the streets. It was a momentous occasion to realize the massive potential for change that exists within the people themselves.
What the evening’s events showed, more than anything else, was the immense power that young people, working people, people of color and immigrants have when standing in solidarity in the face of a reactionary movement. That the people were one is a clear sign that we can, and we will, beat back any attempt to strip away the tenuous rights that have been won by the poor, oppressed and exploited people in this country by decades of struggle.
While Trump continues to attempt to divide the working class by race, immigration status or religion, the people now have a proven weapon that can beat him back: Solidarity.
The people, united, can never be defeated!