Monday, July 25, 2016

The Trump Crowd in Roanoke: Ordinary People

The crowd wrapped from the Conference Center entrance, about a mile to the old Norfolk Southern office buildings.,
My friend Alison Weaver and I could not get into the Donald Trump campaign rally at the Hotel Roanoke a bit ago, but, instead, I collected some numbers for you:
  • 1: A mile, my estimated length of the line to get into the event, four abreast.
    Young protester: Last name Chittum.
  • 1: The number of African-Americans we saw in line (and we saw most of those who got in, standing on the balcony above them. When the line was finally stopped, three African-American young men were next in line).
  • 2: the number of ballrooms that were used (one with a big TV, one for the candidate).
  • 3 or 5: O'clock. The time the first people arrived. A Hotel Roanoke official says 5 a.m.; a person in line said he heard the first arrival was at 3.
  • 14: When I first mentioned on Facebook that I was going to the rally, 14 people said one or another derivations of "be careful." I have never before been told to "be careful" at a political rally.
  •  107: Degrees. The temperature downtown at 3 p.m., according to the outside thermometer in my car (which is consistently accurate).
  • 1,000: Capacity for Ballroom 1 at the Hotel Roanoke.
  • 1,000: The crowd expected (according to published reports) for the event.
  • 1,800: The number of tickets printed for the event.
  • 15,000-20,000: My estimate of the number of people who showed up to get in. 
The temperature at 3 p.m. was 107 degrees.
Both Alison and I were surprised--almost shocked--at the behavior of the crowd. We expected unruly rednecks. What we saw was our neighbors at a church bazaar (one guy and what appeared to be his parents were dressed in matching "Jesus Saves" and "Trump" T-shirts; I suspect Jesus would not have approved of that pairing).

As I mentioned, it probably said more about Alison and me than about the crowd that we expected it to be wild, unruly and out of control, shouting racial epithets and chasing off anybody with an accent (though I heard fewer accents than I saw black people).

The most unruly people--and they were hardly that--were about 200 protesters who lined the street leading from Williamson Road to the hotel entrance. Mostly, they chanted. I could not make out what they were chanting, but one T-shirt read FCKH8.

The line was long, well-behaved.
The worst of the Trump people seemed to be the purveyors of T-shirts. Here's what some said: "Hillary Sucks, but Not Like Monica", "Ted Cruz Sucks", "No More Bullshit" and "Donald Fuckin' Trump."

I mentioned to several different cops (trying all angles) that I had tickets and most of the people in the line couldn't have them if, as the Trump campaign stated, only 1,800 were printed and 10 times that were in line. One cop said, "It's a Trump campaign. What else would you expect?" I liked that guy.

The line from the overpass.
I saw one woman overcome by heat, but I was inside the air conditioned hotel. I have no idea how many passed outside waiting in line for hours. The crowd, in general, was older and older people are more susceptible to heat. Several trucks (I don't know the saint who sponsored them) drove by the crowd passing out water. I noticed that at check-in, the officers had confiscated a lot of drinks and even umbrellas, used to keep the oppressive sun off those attending.

Trump is speaking at this moment. I didn't go to hear him, but to get a feel for what the crowd was like. It wasn't what I expected. These were ordinary, friendly, nice people (a bunch of them saw my University of Tennessee hat and yelled, "Go Vols!). That scares me even more than if it had been unruly crazies.

Matched set of Trumpsters.
The crowd inside the hotel.
The end of the line. They all got in, ticket or no.
The end of the line: Three black kids.

The only African-American (with his girlfriend) we saw get in.
Checking for elicit tennis balls and guns.
Trump crowd commerce: "Hillary Sucks Better Than Monica."
Body scan for everybody.
Matching family: The boy's shirt praised Jesus.

1 comment:

    The crowd for Trump in Roanoke, VA was just a bunch of "ordinary people." Ordinary people are angry. They have chosen Trump as the vehicle to voice their anger. It doesn't matter that he's a narcissistic megalomaniac. He is the voice of those who feel hard-working people are getting screwed.

    Those who are in disbelief that things have gotten this far, believe this: Trump could win. Elections are a harsh corrective to thinking everyone agrees with you. Democrats have brought fact-checkers to a culture war. So even if you're not a Hillary fan (I'm not), it's time to get serious because the future of America will be much bleaker with Trump in charge.

    Unfortunately, even if you like her policies, Hillary doesn't inspire much passion. But winning an election isn't about policy, facts or passion. It's about headcount. Everyone who believes Trump would be a terrible President needs to Get Out The Vote. You need to make sure friends register to vote. You need to help get minorities to register and vote.

    Here's a good start: allows you to fill out the forms to register to vote. It even let's you print the forms and gives you the address of your local registrar. In some states, the site even allows you to register online. Please share this link on your timeline! There's no excuse not to register with a tool this simple.

    Voter ID laws in 33 states have gotten very restrictive, so now is the time to start getting people to register. Do it today! The future of America is at stake.