LAS VEGAS, NV — Hotel mogul and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump had just handed the microphone over to a group of parents of people killed by undocumented immigrants when the chants began to ring out in the cavernous hall at the Westgate Casino.
“Dump Trump!” shouted two local activists as they were quickly dragged out of the room by hotel security guards. “Black lives matter. Muslims matter.” When one of them fell on the ground, an angry crowd of Trump supporters encircled him, phones aloft to film. One elderly man in a pinstripe suit repeatedly screamed, “Take them out!” while another yelled, “Light the motherfucker on fire.”
A few minutes later, when Trump had retaken the podium and was extolling his latest national poll numbers, a handful of immigrant rights activists launched another disruption. The crowd around them booed loudly and began chanting Trump’s name over and over to drown them out. As they were roughly hustled out a side door, Alejandra Romero dropped her phone. A Westgate Security guard threw it through an open door onto the concrete outside. Shaken by the experience, she and Astrid Silva broke out in tears, huddling in the alley outside the casino.
As the two women contemplated filing assault charges, another one of the activists, labor organizer José Macías, told ThinkProgress why he decided to interrupt the controversial candidate.
“He was attacking undocumented families,” Macías said. “We hear so much hate directed towards our community. My family is Mexican and I hear him saying we’re rapists and that we come here to steal and we don’t work. That’s really offensive. My family are hardworking people who want to give back to this country. I wanted to be here and speak out because a lot of people don’t have a voice, or they are scared to do it. If we don’t stand up now, he’s just going to keep attacking our families. We have to stand up and fight back.”
Some of Macías’ fellow protesters were pushed to the ground by Trump supporters as they tried to leave the hall. Cries of “Kick his ass,” “Shoot him,” and “Bitch” came from the crowd, who then cheered when the activists were ejected.
“Sadly, this is what we see in nearly every Donald Trump rally,” said Macías.
Indeed, over the past few weeks, activists have been disrupting Trump speeches across the country. In Alabama, Trump supporters kicked and choked a Black Lives Matter activist who interrupted a rally in Birmingham. Trump said in a later interview that the man deserved to be “roughed up.” A few weeks later, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Trump had to pause his speech ten times as demonstrators chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “Dump Trump.” On Sunday in Aiken, South Carolina, two dozen people were removed by security after protesting Trump’s recent promise to halt the immigration of Muslims to the U.S.
At Monday night’s rally, the night before the Republicans’ fifth debate, Las Vegas resident Diane Sheridan told ThinkProgress she doesn’t want to see Trump protesters “beat up.”
“I don’t think anyone deserves anything bad to happen to them,” she said. “But I see why people are angry.”
Henderson, Nevada resident Mark Jones said that he trusts the security officials present to handle the situation. But noting his decades of work in law enforcement, he offered: “I have 33 years of taking care of problems.”
As he was wrapping up his speech, Trump was also interrupted by his own supporters, who broke out into chants of “Can’t stop the Trump.” Trump leaned on the podium and grinned.
“When these guys started jumping up and down, I thought those were some rough protesters,” he said. “But they’re on my side. Thanks, guys.”