President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Minneapolis Thursday drew thousands of both supporters and protesters, outlining the campaign’s 2020 goal: flip Minnesota.
Beginning in the early evening and continuing well after the rally concluded, protesters chanted slogans, brandished signs and voiced their opposition to Trump’s presidency in the area surrounding the rally’s venue at Target Center. Inside, a near-capacity group of supporters in the 19,356-person auditorium eagerly congregated to show their support for the president and hear several members of the Trump Administration speak.
The rally is the first the Trump campaign has held since impeachment proceedings began in the House of Representatives two weeks ago. It is the fourth time Trump has visited Minnesota in the last 16 months, as the campaign aims to win in a state that has not voted for a republican presidential candidate since 1972.
The announcement of Trump’s visit two weeks ago drew immediate attention from city residents, including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who released a statement saying “while there is no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”
The visit gained national attention as Trump and Frey went head-to-head on Twitter earlier this week, with Trump claiming Frey was using his authority to bar supporters from attending the rally.
Frey responded in a Tuesday tweet, saying, “Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors.”
At the protests
“Together we stand. No ban, no wall.”
“Trump is hypocrisy, we are democracy.”
Throngs of protesters gathered outside Target Center hours before President Donald Trump’s rally Thursday evening, going face-to-face with rally-goers.
Attendees, including students from the University of Minnesota, turned out to protest the administration, concerned by things like immigration policies, democracy and human rights at the border.
“We want to have a better country than what we currently have. This is a great way to showcase that,” said University of Minnesota law student Cayli Posch. “I want to do immigration law, so I’m really big on the migrant protection protocols.”
Some protesters said they came out during a critical moment in the country’s history and in support of impeachment.
“You are not welcome,” said protestor Mustafa Diriye, a 46-year-old from St. Paul, in reference to Trump. “As somebody who is an immigrant, I represent all the immigrants. I'm a person of color, I represent all people of color. The refugees, [Muslims], anybody who is a human being that he has insulted, I am part of them and I will say that you are not welcome.”
For University students, free speech and controversy over political ideologies are nothing new. Late last month, a political message painted on the Washington Avenue Bridge by the College Republicans student group was vandalized for the fourth year in a row. The image depicted the 9/11 terrorist attack next to a quote by Rep. Ilhan Omar above Trump 2020 campaign messages.
“I am against President Trump because of the trade war between China and the United States,” said Anyiping Lu, a University senior studying economics. “I’m Chinese, so it's made a lot of bad impacts on Chinese economics, so I just want to see what's going on here.”
Around 10 p.m., tear gas was thrown onto the street.
Inside the rally
“Is there any place where we can have more fun than at a trump rally?” the president asked to thousands wearing red campaign gear Thursday night.
Supporters inside danced, cheered and donned MAGA gear in support of the president in a boisterous crowd at Target Center. Trump centered his speech on winning “the great state of Minnesota in 2020,” along with voicing his support of law enforcement, mocking of political opponents Joe Biden, Ilhan Omar and Jacob Frey, and denouncing the impeachment inquiry.
“Minnesota, I know you’re going to say yes to four more years of president Donald Trump in 2020,” said vice president Mike Pence, who joined Eric Trump as members of the administration at the rally. “Four more years means more jobs ... more judges, means more support for our troops, and it’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.”
Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis Police Union, joined Trump onstage to address the crowd.
“The mayor said the President wasn’t welcome, but the Police Federation of Minneapolis begs to differ,” Kroll said.
On the impeachment inquiry, Trump said he released the transcript of his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky out of necessity “because the Democrats put out a phony narrative” about the call.
Trump also said Omar is “one of the big reasons” the Republican party will win Minnesota in 2020. He also spoke on immigration in Minnesota with discontent.
Those in the crowd showed constant enthusiasm throughout the rally, booing at words like the “phony Russia hoax,” Nancy Pelosi, Robert Muller and “the media.”
Students in the Twin Cities also came out to show support for Trump.
“I wanted to make my opinion heard because I feel like just in the Cities and being around my opinion isn't respected,” said 18-year-old St. Thomas student David Povolny. “Like, we were walking here and we just had our hats on and we took a wrong turn and we walked into the protesters and people were yelling at us, one girl told us to go back to hick town. They called us Nazis, KKK.”
Londyn Espenson, a sophomore studying kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, said she feels like her voice is not heard on campus.
“I think there’s a lot of professors that are saying that they shouldn’t be saying and really pushing politics on us and pushing their certain beliefs in politics ... and I don’t think that’s totally fair,” Espenson said. “There’s a lot of people that are supportive of you getting your voice out there if you have the same beliefs as them, and when you mention that you don’t have the same beliefs as them, they get a little judgmental and a little hesitant about wanting you to voice your opinion.”
This is a breaking news report. More information will be added as it becomes available.
Tiffany Bui, Jiang Li, Hana Ikramuddin and Niamh Coomey contributed to this report.