Sunday, March 13, 2016

Politicians: Donald Trump

Wednesday night, I was offered a press pass to photograph the Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, NC. I of course jumped at the chance, and was able to muscle my way into the fray of photographers and videographers in the press corral and nab a good spot. Music was blaring over the loudspeakers; rock music was the flavor du jour, but surprisingly, Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma played right before Donald Trump was announced. It was soon replaced by the crowd pleaser Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project. 
A couple of hours before the rally, people began finding seats

The rally was what you'd expect from Donald Trump. The native New Yorker brought an almost revival style to his hour long speech, but was interrupted several times as protesters made their thoughts clear to the audience and Trump himself.  Within the first ten minutes, at least two groups of protesters were led out of the building. The crowd of nearly 10,000 lit up when Trump talked about jobs, reinforced the idea of building a wall at the border, and ending drug imports. He spoke about support for the troops and veterans to a crowd that is heavily influenced by the nearby Fort Bragg. He asked that the audience pledge to vote for him in the North Carolina primary coming up this Tuesday. "Do you pledge that on Tuesday you will, you will go and make America great again, and you will vote for Donald Trump?"  The crowd cheered and pledged that they would do so. It was a raucous crowd, and they were jazzed from the opening speakers until Trump finished. 

For me, it was almost a social experiment. I wanted to photograph The Donald absolutely, but I'd be lying if I didn't say a tiny part of me wanted to see what all the fuss surrounding his rallies was about. It was an eye opener. The crowd was angry, and Trump does a great job in frothing up that anger. One protester was punched in the face as he was led out of the Crown Coliseum. Police were everywhere. A larger protest was in the process of happening right outside the exits. After the rally was over, the crowd outside swelled, causing the police to create a human wall between the protesters and the supporters. A large man with a megaphone was chanting, "No fascists, no KKK. USA, USA." A sign proclaiming Ted Cruz to be the Zodiac Killer danced above the seething crowd. When I made it back to my car, I just sat there wondering to myself, what had I just witnessed?

Signing an autograph

One of the two signs that Trump autographed while on stage

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