CHICAGO — It was over before it really began.
The crowd was electric inside UIC Pavilion in Chicago awaiting the arrival of Donald Trump, who has been dogged this week by questions about the increasing violence at his rallies.
An hour before the event even started, protesters were getting kicked out, led from the building by half a dozen police officers. In the back of the auditorium, a chant began in the crowd: “16 shots,” referencing the number of times LaQuan McDonald was infamously shot and killed by a Chicago police officer.
As the crowd chanted, another group wearing white t-shirts with the words “Muslims United Against Trump” were escorted from the arena.
A young UIC student filming the scene in the crowd told The Daily Beast that there was a plan to leap the barrier in the back and rush the stage as soon as Trump got there. “Fuck CPD,” the crowd chanted with the abbreviation for the Chicago Police Department.
A voice over the loudspeaker warned, “please don’t harm the protesters.”
One middle-aged black man in a hoodie in the audience held up a torn Trump sign, yelling to anyone who would hear “Fuck Trump.”
“It’s a Friday, go do something,” a Trump supporter, wearing an “All Lives Matter” shirt shot back.
“You’re a cocksucker for a fascist,” a young man in a hoodie, who identified himself as Mexican, said.
Elsewhere, when a group of Muslim men praying at the rally tonight raised their heads from the concrete floor of a Chicago arena, the crowd inside the hall roared.
Donald Trump had finally arrived, late for his own campaign event, or so Kazi Hussain thought.
"I want to hear what he has to say," Hussain said as his friend continued to pray.
But it was not Trump who had prompted the cheers. It was a diverse, loud and, ultimately, victorious crowd.
Chicago shut Trump down.
"Attention, attention. The event is cancelled. Please exit the building," a voice said over the house system.
More cheers. Chants for Bernie Sanders. "We stopped Trump!" The GOP frontrunner never even made it on stage."They probably would have killed me in Germany," said Carl Villasenora, referencing the rise of Hitler. "There's too much hate in the world. We don't need anymore."
Villasenora wore a sombrero. His friends carried Mexican flags. "Fuck Trump!" they said.For the last few months Trump's rallies have become increasingly violent, raucous affairs. Arrests and disruptions follow the candidate wherever he goes, and Friday was no different. A black man, who was escorted out of the rally when Trump supporters could still be seen in the hall, told police he was peacefully exercising his freedom of speech as he was placed in handcuffs.
A full hour before Trump was scheduled to speak in Chicago, one man was escorted out to chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump!" A few more were taken out before the rally was overtaken by protesters. There were simply too many of them for police—and Trump's few supporters—to handle. As the situation began to devolve, with supporters and protesters arguing with a line of cops between, instructions were given out over the house speakers.
"The Trump campaign supports freedom of speech. If you see protester near you, chant "Trump" until police arrive."
The instructions were worthless.
It was not immediately clear why Trump cancelled the event or who made the final call. The Chicago Police Department later said it never told Trump to cancel based on potential security risks, which was something he claimed after the event. CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the AP that their agency had enough hands on deck to handle the event and that Trump made the decision "independently."
“Fuck that racist motherfucker,” a protester screamed as the announcement rang out. The crowd leapt into the air, seemingly at once chanting the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” as they celebrated.
“We stopped Trump,” they screamed.
When it became clear the mogul of their discontent had cancelled, the crowd that had remained to protest began to leave, pushed by the police and urged to disperse, stepping over torn “Make America Great Again” signs strewn across the floor.
One portly white man, a Trump supporter, who chose not to be named, took the day off work to see him and called the cancellation “disgusting.”
“I was very excited; I took the day off work and everything,” he said, repeating that the people who shut the rally down were disgusting.
Towards the front of the emptying arena, a boy in a fedora holding an enormous American flag across his chest refused to leave. A woman stood next to him clutching a copy of Trump’s book “Crippled America.”
“This was shocking. This is a travesty. I’m very disappointed that Donald Trump cancelled on us. I hope this will not damage him in the polls. This is an embarrassment to the United States,” Cruz Marquis, the boy with the flag, forlornly told The Daily Beast.
Tom Rice, another Trump fan, was similarly disappointed but suggested that Trump didn’t need to cancel because there was plenty of security.
“I’m extremely disappointed that whatever happens outside this building affects what’s inside,” Rice said alluding to the gathering protesters who walked around the pavilion prior to the start of the event. “There’s no reason why he couldn’t have gotten up there and given the speech like he was supposed to,” Rice who served for seven years in the military said. “I’ve been in much worse conditions than what was outside this building.”
As one lone youngster in a white button stared at the empty stage where Trump was supposed to speak, popcorn crushed among the torn signs at his feet, the protesters celebrated and took their fight outside.
“I think it has revealed that Donald Trump is a coward,” Rob Conrad, a Bernie Sanders supporter in the crowd told The Daily Beast. “Donald Trump to me is a small man focused on small things. This colosseum full of Chicagoans tonight have shown him that there is a huge chunk of American that doesn’t like his game.”
“He didn’t show up. So I mean to use his word, who’s the pussy now?”