- Ismael Rodriguez
“Trump supports sexual violence!”
"Love Trumps Hate!"
A crowd of around 30 protesters hoisted signs and sang chants this afternoon as they waited for the arrival of Donald Trump, who dropped by San Antonio for a private lunchtime fundraiser at the Grant Hyatt Hotel. As his dark SUV sped into the hotel’s garage, people in a smaller, pro-Trump group shouted, “I saw him! He gave me a thumbs up!”
Orange metal barricades surrounding the Hyatt’s main entrance created a wall between Trump supporters and adversaries—an attempt by the police to keep the crowds peaceful. But no one had come to start a fight.
“I came here because our country is dividing, and it scares me,” said Alfonso Pena, a middle-aged man wearing a Texas Longhorns jersey. “Even in my own household, we have chosen sides. We’ve never had this kind of split before. There is so much hatred in the country right now, in our community, and it has to be stopped.”
This is Trump's second fundraising visit to San Antonio this year. In July, protesters held an equally peaceful protest in front of the Oak Hills Country Club, where Trump managed to wrangle $51 million out of Texas donors.
Most people had just found out Trump would be arriving in the last couple days, thanks to Facebook. Others had heard the commotion and stopped by out of curiosity. One guy thought he was at a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (it was four blocks away).
Representatives from a number of community groups waved signs in protest, including Diego Mancha with the San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement.
“We are here to show Donald Trump that San Antonio stands with the immigrant community, and that we won’t put up with his degrading, racist comments,” Mancha said.
At least three of the members of the anti-Trump contingent were deputy voting registrars and offered to sign up any last-minute voters on the spot. But in a crowd of politically-aware ralliers, they said it was hard to find an unregistered voter.
Still, registering to vote is at the core of the protest, said event organizer Mayra Mendoza.
“This rhetoric about pro-voting, which is really what this needs to be – an ongoing discussion way beyond election day,” said Mendoza. Her co-organizer, Maximo Anguiano, carried a sign reading “Texas, don’t boo, vote!” echoing Barack Obama’s speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention.
“We don’t appreciate Trump. We don’t support his divisiveness,” Anguiano said. “Trump has me ashamed to be a man because of all these things he’s said about women this past week. It’s disgusting.”
The rally also coincided with a lunch break at an educator conference being held in the adjacent Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Hundreds of unsuspecting teachers streamed through the crowd, some cheering their support—"Teachers for Trump!”— and others trying to go by unnoticed.
The pro-Trump representatives were quieter, save for one woman with an umbrella chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump! Trump saves babies!” One man, who asked to remain nameless, said Trump has been his hero since he was 16 years old.
“See those cars?” he asked, pointing to the passing traffic. “They run on oil. It’s too expensive, thanks to Obama. We need to go into Iraq and take what’s ours! We can make Iraq like America! Trump will do that.”
Behind closed doors, Trump allegedly told the high-paying supporters he’d be “fighting like hell” in the few weeks up until the election, according to audio obtained by the Texas Tribune.
He also praised the Spurs, adding: "Wouldn't it be great if the country were run like that?"
Hours before his speech, Trump managed to attack both Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain on Twitter, then declared: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”