Friday, August 25, 2017

My Night at the Trump Rally

We had heard he was coming on Tuesday night! (August 22,2017)  President Trump was actually coming to Phoenix to speak to the people at the Phoenix Convention center. My friend and I decided to attend after getting tickets around 3:00 pm that day. I have always wanted to attend a political rally and this was my chance.

Phoenix Convention Center with Light Rail Train
From the news reports, people were camped out from early morning so it didn't look good for our chance to actually get in. From other news reports, traffic was bumper to bumper on the I-10, which was closed down after a while. Many of the downtown streets were closed too. My daughter and her husband tried to drive in but didn't get very far on the I-10.

I got home from work as soon as I could and we set out to the Valley Light Rail Station in Mesa at about 6:00 pm hoping to arrive before 7:00 pm which was the start of the rally.

 As we got closer to Phoenix, the train got more crowded. We pulled into the Convention Center Station and the sight was unbelievable.  People and policemen were everywhere. The train had to stop at the station after the convention center to let us off. We walked back towards the convention center and it looked like the streets of New York: wall to wall people. There were recycling garbage trucks lined up on one side of the convention center which we were told held anti-riot equipment.  We followed the crowd to get to the back of the line going into the building which was so long. It went around the whole convention center and across the street.
Sun just setting in line to the Convention Center

There were Trump haters and Trump supporters. The group of haters were across the street holding Trump hate signs, chanting things together set up like a choir and some of the supporters were yelling back at them. Obscenities abounded on both sides but no one was fighting....yet. There was a group in line singing patriotic songs and we smelled alcohol and cigarettes every where. It was now after 7:00 pm so I started listening to Trump's speech on my phone. At least I could hear what he had to say. Many others were doing the same thing.

It took us a whole hour to get to the door of the convention center at which point we were turned away because the building had been filled to capacity (15,000 according to the reports).

There were 5,000 of us outside roaming around.  All walks of life, colors, creeds and ages.  It was really amazing. My friend and I wanted to walk around to the other side of the building to the door which was designated as the entrance to see if we could get in somehow, but we were stopped where we were and could not get there.  The police blocked off the whole area. We were thinking that maybe where we were standing was where Trump would come out when he was done, but we didn't know. Police on bikes kept pushing the crowd away from that area.  Then we saw a whole line of police with those riot shields and helmets walking together. It was peaceful outside for the most part but with the look of those police in shields, I was getting a little worried.

As we walked away from the convention center, the atmosphere started heating up with younger men in their 20's beginning to fight in different areas. It was interesting to watch as some of the older men broke up the fights before it got out of hand.

After a stop in a downtown restroom, my friend and I walked back to the closest light rail station to get back to Mesa and I was still listening to Trump's talk. The train pulled up and it was already full. We barely got on the train and the doors closed. We were packed in like sardines.

       This was the scene of the light rail train on the way home.  Both ways on the last car were filled to the brim. It reminded me of the subways in New York when my grandmother used to take us on trips around Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Although it doesn't look like it from the people's faces, there was a lot of excitement.

My friend, Tom and I on the way home.
People were talking and laughing and also holding their signs. It was really quite peaceful even with both Trump haters and supporters squished together.

I turned off my phone and had an interesting talk with a guy from New Jersey who lived not far from where I lived when I was a teenager.  That made the time go by faster and as we got closer to Mesa, the train became more empty.

When we finally got home at 9:30, we turned on the news and it was live in downtown Phoenix. We recognized where we were and saw all the tear gas and pepper spray used to get the crowds to go home. I couldn't believe it.  Everyone was relatively peaceful when we were there but apparently it didn't stay that way.

I was really glad we left when we did.  Even though we never got into the convention center, I felt that at least we showed our support to Trump and his speech on the outside. For the most part, my experience downtown was really encouraging. People were still good and wanted to unify for their cause, peaceably. Whether you were a supporter or a hater, everyone wanted to hear what Trump had to say.   It was a most memorable day.

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