LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS — In anticipation of Donald Trump’s arrival here yesterday, the mainstream media relished the possibility of massive student-led protests disrupting his rally at the University of Massachusetts’s Tsongas Arena.
The Boston Herald reported that Community Advocates for Justice and Equality, a group opposed to deporting illegal immigrants, was alone mobilizing 300-400 activists. Its leader, Jay Monaco, warned the Herald that “the little area that they were going to cordon off for us is probably not going to be sufficient.” Black Lives Matter Cambridge even held a “Nonviolent Direct Action Training” workshop to prepare for the event.
Which seems to have been a YUUUUGE waste of time.
In a report on the evening, the Lowell Sun put the number of protesters in the hundreds, which is clearly an exaggeration to anyone who attended the event. Their numbers never crept above thirty, and they took only a sliver of the designated “free-speech zone.” Yet sub-freezing temperatures didn’t deter Trump’s supporters from gathering by the thousands: at its height, the line for the door stretched three blocks, with thousands waiting patiently for admission.
There were no altercations outside the Arena, save one verbal back-and-forth: when protesters began chanting “Dump Trump,” one Trump supporter hollered, “Why don’t you say what you really mean? Ber-nie! Bern-ie! Bern-ie!”
Before the event began, a member of the Trump campaign gave directions to supporters on what to do in the event of a disruption, asking those seated near the heckler to stand and chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” to alert security. During the four incidents, however, Trump’s supporters opted to chant “U-S-A” with the entire arena – Trump included – joining in. All hecklers were removed without incident.
After the third disruption, Trump reflected, “The sad part is, it’s such a small group of people. We have thousands of people here” – ten thousand, in fact – “and tomorrow the headlines will be, ‘Protesters!’” The event set a record for the Tsongas Arena, whose normal capacity is about 7,000.
The Donald’s disdain for the mainstream press was a recurring theme of the night, with the GOP frontrunner at one point saying, “They are the most dishonest people. They are the most disgusting and dishonest people.”
Only The Washington Post declined to focus solely on the protests, calling the size of the crowd “absolutely mind-boggling.” License plates from as far afield as Connecticut were spotted in the parking lot. By all accounts, the number of people who came out from deep blue states to support a Republican candidate was unprecedented.
In other news, the Clintons also held separate rallies on Monday, with Hillary in Iowa and Bill in New Hampshire. Hillary attracted 600 people; Bill, 700.