Here in Cincinnati last night, we didn't see the return of "Send her back!" chants. We got threats of violence against the press and actual outright physical violence against people protesting his visit instead.
Punches were thrown outside U.S. Bank Arena as Trump addressed the crowd, defending his record and attacking Democrats for what he said were their destructive record for inner cities.
Though many of the protests were peaceful, this one turned violent, forcing Cincinnati police to intervene in the 200 block of Broadway Street.
Dallas Frazier, 29, of Georgetown, Kentucky, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and escorted away in handcuffs.
He was taken to the Hamilton County Justice Center, where he was booked and held overnight without bond.
He appeared before a judge Friday afternoon and was granted a $10,000 bond at 10 percent, meaning he only has to pay $1,000 to be released.
“Victim stated suspect exited a vehicle, stated ‘You want some’ then struck the victim multiple times in the face causing visible injuries and breaking victim’s glasses,” Cincinnati police wrote in Frazier’s criminal complaint.
The victim, Matt Alter, went to Christ Hospital to get checked out. After, he told FOX19 NOW he was punched six times in the face.
Alter said he was with anti-Trump protesters and the man who hit him pulled up in a truck, didn’t like what he had to say and started attacking him.
“I was standing with a group of people around and the truck pulled up. He was yelling at people. People yelling back anti Trump stuff whatever, nothing specific and he just started getting violent and I’m like come on guy,” Alter said.
Both men involved in the fight were white. I'm very thankful that the bastard who jumped out of his truck didn't attack a black protester, because who knows how that would have ended, especially with the police already on scene.
Inside US Bank Arena last night, it wasn't much better.
Open throats, captive minds. Maybe 17,000 of each, deafening in different ways. Joy, fear, love, hate, fellowship. Unbridled, roaring nationalism. Shirts that said “JESUS IS MY SAVIOR, TRUMP IS MY PRESIDENT,” though it was hard to tell the difference here at rally No. 64 of his presidency, on day 923 of his first term.
About 15 minutes into his speech Thursday evening, Donald Trump riffed on one of his favorite topics: American “inner cities,” and how they are utter hellholes.
“We can name one after the other, but I won’t do that,” Trump said. “Because I don’t want to be controversial.” He paused to let the crowd goad him into being controversial. “We want no controversy.” This was his first rally since his pillorying of Baltimore as “infested,” since his last audience chanted “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the Somali-American congresswoman.
Would he go there again? Would he go beyond? Would they? How racist was everyone feeling tonight?
When asked earlier in the day about indecent chants, outside the White House, Trump said: “I don’t know that you can stop people.”
Presently, onstage, the president pivoted to his left and looked into the crowd at the U.S. Bank Arena. His followers, reacting as one red-hatted organism, had detected an invasion: a few protesters who had unfurled a small banner that said “IMMIGRANTS BUILT AMERICA.” The organism’s immune system pulsed to life. People snatched at the banner, swarmed the protesters.
Trump sidestepped the microphone and addressed the fans closest to him, just off the stage. “Democrat mayor?” he asked them, hand beside his mouth, perhaps to block his audio. “Democrat mayor. Democrat?” When the slight infection was treated, the capacity crowd chanted “U-S-A.”
“Cincinnati, do you have a Democrat mayor?” Trump said at the microphone. “Well, that’s what happens.”
Yes, that’s what happens if you vote Democrat, or if a Democrat is in charge, or if anyone is in charge but Donald Trump in 2021: chaos, lawlessness, the slavery of socialism, epidemics of disease and drugs, criminal immigrants pillaging schools and hospitals, the slaughter of newborn babies by abortion doctors, pesky investigations of presidential wrongdoing by men such as Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), congressman from Baltimore and chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
He's talking to you, Mayor Cranley. You're next. All Democratic politicians are next. All Democratic voters are next.
Fever bright Trumpies are everywhere. They are dangerous. And they see Trump as God on Earth.
Rewind for a moment, to about two hours before Trump’s entrance. It was the fifth rally for Steve and Tina Callahan, real estate agents from Springfield, Ohio. They were waiting in the first row of the second tier of seating, in attire patterned with the American flag, because they wanted to feel unity, to be around people with “common sense,” to see their hero in the flesh.
“He is sacrificing his life to save America from a new world order,” Tina said.
What if he is not reelected?
“God is real and He’s told many people that Trump is going to serve eight years,” said Tina, a born-again Christian. “And Pence is going to serve eight years. And Pence’s vice president is going to serve eight years.”
Jennifer Heinlein, a patient-services specialist, loves how her 401(k) has swelled. She pays “heavily” for her health insurance, but wants to keep it, and worries that a Democrat would take it away. She pointed to her compatriots moving through the concourse in Trump-branded merchandise. “When I see people wearing all this,” Heinlein said, “it makes me a believer.”
Down on the polished concrete floor of the arena, in the standing VIP section, was a woman named Michelle Sellati, wearing a shirt adorned with the letter “Q.” She was part of a noticeable contingent of rallygoers wearing the symbols of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which at least one FBI field office has identified as a domestic terrorist threat, according to a Yahoo News story published earlier in the day. Besides being a portal to uncertain revelations of a dubious nature, QAnon also helps explain the president’s foibles to those who see him as the author of living scripture.
“I wait for him to misspell or mispronounce something, and then I wait for my Serial Brain to decode,” said Sellati, referring to a YouTube channel that she says analyzes the missing letters in the president’s tweets — and the garbled words in the president’s mouth — for clues to what’s going to happen in the future.
What’s an example of something that’s happened, after a clue?
“The chemtrails,” Sellati said.
“The chemtrails are gone. Since July 4. Look at the sky. It’s beautiful.”
Do you think these people are going to accept a Trump loss without catastrophic violence against those who they perceive as responsible for that loss?
“We’re all tired of being called racists,” a 74-year-old bespectacled white man named Richard Haines told me. “You open your mouth, you’re a racist. My daughter is a liberal, and she’s [using the word] all the time. We don’t talk politics; we can’t—all the time she always accuses me of hate.”
Haines, who told me he had just returned to the United States from Thailand, where he had done missionary work for 15 years with impoverished children, said that he knew what real racism looked like—that his father was a “bigot” who “didn’t like black people.”
“Donald is not racist, you know?” Haines said. “He makes a statement, and they take the words out of context and try to twist everything so that he’s a racist. And I think it’s gonna backfire.”
Before the rally began, I sat down on the floor of the arena with two women—Roseanna, 50, and Amy, 48—who felt similarly. (Neither woman was comfortable providing her last name for this story.) Roseanna, who wore a red T-shirt, white shorts, and a MAGA hat adorned with multiple buttons, including one featuring the likeness of Hillary Clinton behind bars, had driven an hour and a half from Lexington, Kentucky. She defended Trump’s statements about Baltimore. “He didn’t say nothing about the color of somebody’s skin,” Roseanna said, yet it seemed like everyone was “wishing him toward ‘He’s a bigot.’
“I’m sick to death of it. I have 13 grandchildren—13,” she continued. “Four of them are biracial, black and white; another two of them are black and white; and another two of them are Singapore and white. You think I’m a racist? I go and I give them kids kisses like nobody’s business.”
When I asked Roseanna and Amy whether they would join in a “Send her back!” chant were it to take place that night, both women said no, but out of deference to Trump. “He apologized for that, so I think us as Trump supporters will respect him for that,” Roseanna said. She then shared her thoughts on the chant’s target, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who came to America as a refugee from Somalia.
“Look, but she is gonna get—you know, I don’t want her stinkin’ Muslim crap in my country,” Roseanna said.
“Sharia law,” Amy chimed in. Her iridescent CoverGirl highlighter glinted under the stadium lights. “Sharia law.”
“That’s not America,” Roseanna said. “She is a Muslim through and through …She wants that all here.” She wondered aloud whether Omar had come to the U.S. illegally. (There is no evidence this is true.)
Should Trump win, they will be justified in their racism. Should Trump lose, they will not accept it. They will want to do something about it.
And they will.
I am terrified of what may happen in 2020. I will vote, and I will continue to write, and I will continue to witness. But I would be lying if I said I didn't expect brutal, historic violence in the wake of a Trump loss.