By Connor Kirst
After attending the Bernie Sanders rally last week, I knew that the Donald Trump rally would be a completely different animal. I was still surprised just how different it was.
The Bernie Sanders rally was held at U.B. and seemed to be very well organized from a media standpoint. It was very easy to get credentials and everything from parking, check in and set up was very streamlined. In comparison, I was the only member of the Hilbert College News to get credentials and attend the Trump rally. Other students were denied and our advisor/editor Dan Higgins was denied credentials, too. Media parking at the Sanders rally was clear and accessible, but I paid $15 to park at Trump. Many of the roads around the First Niagara Center were closed off and I had left my retail job just before 6.
I’ll do my best to keep my own political views out of this article, but it is hard to not see the Trump rally as chaotic. Walking up to the event, I noticed a very large crowd of protesters, and a heavy police presence. After going through the media entrance I walked into the First Niagara Center. The designated media spot was crammed and I ended up seemingly in a spot where photographing Trump would be difficult. As each speaker – from Chris Collins to Carl Paladino – riled up the crowd with chants of “Make America Great Again” and “Who’s gonna build that wall?” “MEXICO!” I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fully capture the atmosphere of the event in my spot. However after Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan introduced Trump, my spot became the attention of almost every media member in attendance. Within the first 10 Minutes of the event, nearly
a dozen people were dragged out by police for apparently protesting. I saw a young woman being dragged out by her jeans, and countless other being dragged by their arms with legs scraping against the ground. This happened literally two feet in front of me.
At this point it didn’t even matter, that Donald Trump was speaking. As protesters were “escorted” out, Trump was talking about his bid for the Buffalo Bills. Most news I’ve seen about the event either noted that, or his now infamous gaffe confusing 9/11 with 7-11.
In comparison, at the Sanders rally I did not see a single protester or anyone getting kicked out. While it is quite possible that there was protesting, I spent nearly 9 hours at the Sanders rally, compared to 3 hours at the Trump rally.
I don’t necessarily want to criticize the media or Donald Trump, but I find it odd that it’s not even news anymore when protesters are dragged out of his rallies. It almost seems like Trump loves it when the protestors distract the crowd from his message. “There is no safer place than a Trump rally,” Trump says.
Other than the the protesters being dragged out, I didn’t personally find the rally to be very interesting. I consider myself to be a very moderate person when it comes to politics and would consider many different ideas. By going to his rally, I have Donald Trump a chance to change my views. However unless you already think Trump is the man to “Make America Great Again,” spending a huge chunk of time talking about building a wall that Mexico will pay for, is not the best method of winning the general public over.
My experience at both the Sanders and Trump rallies is not something I am soon to forget. Being in tune with current events is my responsibility as a college student, and I would encourage anyone – press credentials or not – to attend one of these events. It is truly an eye opening experience and I am proud that I had the opportunity to cover it.