Last evening I was reminded of an experience I had four years ago while in the middle of a Mitt Romney rally five days before the 2012 election. Fortunately for me, the vibe at that rally was very different than the vibe at the Nevada Trump one, and I didn’t get jumped the way the person did last night in the middle of the Trump rally.
The action I took, together with a Virginia friend, was part of an “End Climate Silence” campaign a number of groups and individuals were engaged in. Our main focuses were the Presidential debates and the two Presidential campaigns, pressuring the debate moderators and Obama and Romney to address the issue of the climate crisis. We did this through various tactics, including going to candidate campaign rallies and holding up a sign or banner as close to the candidate as we could get.
My friend and I went to a Mitt Romney rally outside of Richmond, Virginia several days after Superstorm Sandy had hit the east coast. It was Romney’s second big rally since he and Obama had temporarily suspended campaigning because of that massive tragedy for so many caused to no small degree by human-caused climate disruption.
We got there very early. Because we did, we were able to get right up to the front, directly in front of the stage. We strategically placed ourselves three rows back from the front so we wouldn’t be seen easily by any security. My friend had a small cloth sign in one of her boots which said, “End Climate Silence.”
I had a plan for when I would hold it up and say something. I had heard Romney’s first speech after Sandy the evening before while riding down from New Jersey to Virginia. I heard him begin with a reference to the victims of Sandy and our support for them, which generated applause, and I heard a point, literally a second or two, right in between that applause dying down and Romney starting his stump speech where there was near-total silence. I knew that was the place for my action.
When that time came there outside Richmond, and after we had successfully brought the cloth sign out of her boot and into my hands but hidden from those standing around us, I did my thing. As the applause for victims of Sandy died down I shouted, as loud as I could, “What about climate? Superstorm Sandy was caused by climate change?” I raised the cloth “End Climate Silence” banner above my head directly in front of Romney, about 20 feet back. Romney saw and heard me and stopped speaking.
Immediately the crowd erupted in boos and catcalls, followed by shouts of “USA, USA, USA.” As it did so I slowly turned so others in the crowd and the scores of media and dozens of TV cameras on risers behind the crowd could see my sign. About 10 seconds into doing that, I simultaneously had the banner ripped out of my hands by a man in front of me and felt someone pushing me from the back toward the exit 200 or so feet away.
I didn’t resist, having thought in advance that I would move toward the exit anyway after I did the action, if I could. Having a security escort ended up working just fine for me. I kept yelling, “Climate change caused Sandy,” all the way to the door. I was soon in the back of a local county sheriff’s car being taken to where my car was parked a half mile way, and then on the road away from the scene of the disruption.
This action ended up getting something like the media coverage being gotten by the person who did a similar action last evening. His sign said, “Republicans Against Trump.” He was also escorted out by security, though a lot more of them. But the crowd around him reacted very differently. News reports say that someone yelled, “gun, gun, gun,” and there was a lot of noise and scuffling before Trump stopped his speech and was then ushered out by the Secret Service. I saw the protestor saying on CNN this morning that, “They could have strangled and killed me right on the spot.”
It makes sense that a Trump rally crowd would be much rowdier, more paranoid, more prone to violence than a Romney crowd. Trump has been inciting and urging that on all throughout his campaign. That is what this psychopathic liar is all about. For that and many other reasons that is why it is so essential that progressive people, particularly in the battleground or near-battleground states of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico and New Hampshire, vote for Hillary Clinton. And all of us should do all we can in these last days to get everyone else we can in those states to do the same.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.