By Katie Haremski, Features Editor, and Ashley Rutledge, Assistant Features Editor—
On Sunday, Nov. 4, UTC’s campus was packed with thousands of people as a result of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to endorse Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Many were there in support of President Trump, but many were also there to exercise their First Amendment and protest.
While a sea of individuals wearing and selling ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and t-shirts waited in line to enter McKenzie Arena, many UTC students came together to orchestrate a peaceful protest against President Trump, his treatment of immigrants, refugees, transgender people, and more.
UTC student, Kevin Lee, was the leader of the peaceful protest. Lee said that the reason why the protest was orchestrated was because of the message that The President and his supporters are “telling us.”
Lee said the problem is that this country is not about “both sides.” Lee explained that “both sides weren’t the ones that sent out pipe bombs on Donald Trump’s critic” and that is why they protested.
[Kevin Lee] is combat veteran and served the United States for six years. He spent his time in the United States Air Force, Special Operations and in Intelligence and held one of the highest security clearances possible in the United States.
Lee lead protesters from Chamberlain Field on campus to the outskirts of McKenzie Arena in the Blood Assurance parking lot.
The peaceful protesters joined the ‘Stand for Peace!’ protesters. The protesters stood on one side of 4th Street as Trump supporters waited in line to enter McKenzie Arena. Officers from the Chattanooga Police Department, as well as CPD Chief David Roddy, stood in the middle of the street and focused on crowd control.
Some UTC students and community members donned bright yellow vests, indicating that they were mediators who could help diffuse a tense situation should one arise between a protester and a rally attendee. There were also a few religious leaders who stood alongside the protesters who were there to represent unity and to help mediate tense discourse between protesters and Trump supporters.
Once the Make America Great Again rally began, protesters moved from the Blood Assurance parking lot to the west campus parking garage, where many Trump supporters were viewing the rally on a large video screen.
Discourse between protesters and Trump supporters carried on well throughout the program, while Chattanooga police officers again controlled the crowd as both sides argued over topics like immigration, discrimination and women’s rights.
The protestors were compliant with the police and the protest ended with no violence.
Lee’s ultimate hope was that their [the protestors] voice would be heard and that everyone felt safe.