A view from the inside.
Birmingham, Alabama – The South has a history of inspiring the voiceless to shout from the rooftops of their oppression. These echoes of the past, which still reverberate through the region’s culture, are mixed with shades of inspiration and hues of hate. It has been those seeking inclusion—rather than exclusion—who have allowed the daylight to pierce the shadows of fear. Fear is the foundation of hate, and hate is the cornerstone of persecution, but those who refuse to be trampled in silence give the next generation a platform on which to be heard.
On Saturday, Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of a few thousand people in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. I was one of the attendees.
Arriving a few minutes after the 11 am start time printed on my ticket (which was free), I approached the entrance to the North Exhibition Hall of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, unsure of what to expect. There was no line awaiting me. The mixed crowd of Secret Service, TSA, and local police kept our encounters brief. I was silently ushered through one of the multiple metal detectors that stood at attention like gates standing guard over an ancient city. Without incident, I walked toward a double glass door and eased open one side when my ears were immediately bombarded with a familiar voice bellowing over a microphone. Though the speaker was still out of view, I knew the voice belonged to Donald Trump. The former host of The Apprentice had apparently just gathered himself at the podium as his voice sounded rehearsed pleasantries to a clamoring audience. Since I chose to view the spectacle from behind the horde, I never got closer to Trump than the back of the room.
The first few minutes of his oration was liberally scattered with words like “losers,” “dopes,” and “morons,” as he referenced ISIS, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. He followed that tirade with the claim he would call Iranian cleric Ali Khamenei “babe,” and “hey you,” as he scolded the president for referring to the Iranian as “Supreme Leader.” After he mentioned his desire to behead members of ISIS, he said something that really grabbed my attention:
“Look at that, people are still pouring in! You’re so lucky to be in here, by the way. Look at you. You’re so lucky. ‘Lotta people outside! By the way, if you want, we can wait about an hour and get everybody in. You wanna do that?”
As I mentioned before, I did not wait behind a single person when I entered the facility only moments earlier. There were not people still pouring in as he stated—but there were apparently a lot of lies pouring out.
Most of what followed from of the billionaire was predominately self-boasting and braggadocio. It wasn’t until about 17 minutes in that my ears perked up and my heart sank. When Trump’s reverb-laden voice inflated the room with the words, “We have to build a wall,” the voices of the crowd soared. Attendees roared as their words rose in unison: “Build that wall…Build that wall…Build that wall!” I was astonished.
I not only felt the embarrassment of being from a place where people who mostly define themselves as Christians chant to expel a group of people out of their country, I was also overwhelmed with glimpses of 1930s Germany. How fast the Republican party went from the party of “Tear down this wall!” to “Build that wall!” I stood there dumbstruck amid the realization that it’s not the crazy thoughts of one man that steer us down our path of destruction. It’s the lunatic mentality of the mob.
Trump had settled back into singing the self-lauding psalm of Trump when I decided I had seen all there was to see. “He thinks highly of himself…I get the point,” I said internally.
The speech was barely halfway over before I was gone.
Then, of course, something happened.
As I drove all of five minutes home, another Birmingham resident, Mercutio Southall, was being physically ejected from the same exhibition hall I had just escaped.
Mercutio, who attended the event with friends Alecha Irby and Carlos Chaverst Jr., is the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement in Birmingham. He was forcibly removed from the building after numerous attendees violently engaged him. Multiple videos have been posted online showing Mercutio being assaulted on the floor of the civic center.
Mercutio spoke with Anti-Media to give his account of the altercation:
“[Carlos] had his phone up recording. He was live streaming on Periscope and saying ‘I’m recording at a Donald Trump rally.’ I think he may have then said ‘Donald Trump is not welcome here,’ or something like that. It wasn’t even loud. He was just holding up the camera and saying it. Then somebody came up and slapped the camera out of his hand,” Mercutio said.
The activist expressed that he didn’t believe the man who knocked the smartphone out of his friend’s hand was with Trump’s official campaign team. Rather, he suspected it was “just some guy” who attended the event to support the Republican candidate.
“Nobody had chanted anything, nothing. But he started on us, and I kinda stepped to the guy. Carlos then said, ‘Don’t hit my sh*t’ and the guy said, ‘I just did,’” according to Mercutio.
“That’s when we pushed ourselves forward and started chanting, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Dump Trump,’” he continued. “Then people started surrounding us, getting in front of us, and blocking our way. People started shoving and chanting ‘All lives matter’ and were trying to grab our arms and hands.”
“At this point, I look around and don’t even see Carlos and Alecha anymore,” Mercutio said. “That’s when the crowd converged around me and the next thing I know I’m at the bottom of a pile of 8 to 12 people throwing them off of me. A lady kicked me in the stomach and a guy kicked me in the chest before I finally threw enough people off of me to be able to get up. A Secret Service guy had come over there by that time to help me up. That’s when another guy then started choking me from behind. He didn’t stop until I elbowed him in the groin and the police grabbed me,” he explained.
“It felt like I was being lynched in front of police and they didn’t do anything about it,” Mercutio added.
As law enforcement removed the young protesters from the building, Donald Trump leaned into the microphone. With a cold growl, he said, “Get ‘em the hell outta here, will you please? Get ‘em out! Throw ‘em out!” He later referred to the activists as “bloodsuckers” and “terrible people.”
No charges will be filed against either the protestors or their attackers.
Once the commotion died down among those left inside the civic center, Trump expounded upon his Orwellian vision for the United States. The wealthy real estate mogul acted as a cheerleader for the warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens. He also unapologetically stated he supported a database for Muslim Americans and the surveillance of “certain mosques.”
On Sunday morning, while speaking with Fox News about the altercation from the day prior, Trump bemoaned that “Maybe [Mercutio] should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Trump made this statement less than 24 hours after his campaign said it “does not condone” the physical manner of the altercation.
As for Mercutio, he told Anti-Media not only why he felt he needed to attend the Trump event, but why he feels activism plays a necessary and vital role in the community:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. We have kids. We have a responsibility to our future. Our silence is our acquiescence. And I’m not gonna sit by and watch this sh*t happen.”
Tune-in to Anti-Media radio tonight, Tuesday, November 24, at 11pm est. (8 pm PST) to listen to our exclusive live sit-down interview with the man at the center of the story, Black Lives Matter activist Mercutio Southall. You can listen here: www.theantimedia.org/radio
This article (Why You Should Never Attend A Donald Trump Rally) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to SM Gibson and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more here:: Why You Should Never Attend A Donald Trump Rally