Video by Hunter Ruland
The sunny Friday afternoon seemed almost normal. People were preparing for the impending weekend ahead, but this particular Friday was different. It was marked with a visit by a presidential candidate, one who has been among the most controversial in recent memory — Donald Trump.
Thousands of community members gathered at the Lane Events Center on the afternoon of Friday, May 6, to either support or protest Trump’s arrival.
The center was filled to capacity, with an estimated 4,500 people in attendance.
Mariana Paredones, a Lane student, organized one of several protests that occurred during the event. The protesters gathered at Monroe Park, on West 10th and Monroe, a few hours before Trump’s arrival. Paredones led the group of hundreds in chants of “No justice, no peace!” and “Dump Trump!” Many community members participated in stirring speeches to electrify the crowds.
“We are not going to let a little blond wig take our rights away,” Paredones said. “Organizing this action is something our ancestors would have wanted.”
Many Trump rallies across the country have ended in violent riots. To prevent that happening in Eugene, the police presence was extensive. Hundreds of police roamed the area, keeping an eye out to stop any altercations.
Beverly Billings, a Trump supporter, spoke about why she came to show her support for Donald Trump and to listen to what he had to say.
“He has good morals and values,” Billings said. “He is going to help America and make it a better place for the poor.”
Students of the Eugene area, including Roman Perez, came out to protest Trump’s visit to Eugene.
“I immigrated here from Mexico,” Perez said. “He [Trump] has called me a rapist and a drug dealer and we don’t want Trump here. His ideologies are not the ones we want.”
As the night went on more protesters filled the streets, forcing police to close down parts of 13th Avenue, diverting traffic for hours.
As the event ended, thousands of Trump supporters began to leave and form groups outside, mingling in with protesters. Minor physical conflicts ensued with one person needing medical attention after an altercation outside of the event center.
Many heated debates between supporters and protesters ensued, with large crowds gathering around to hear the two sides face off.
Thomas Copprins, another Trump supporter who engaged in debates with protesters outside, shared why he came to see Trump and what he thought about the protests.
“For my values, he [Trump] is probably the best candidate that is currently still running. I am definitely pro-capitalist and I like his health care policy,” Copprins said. “As far as any rights for minorities, I can’t really get behind it because I think of myself as more of a selfish person. I don’t think they [protesters] are really going to achieve much.”
The crowd was at its largest immediately after the Trump event, with over 500 protesters pushing against the fences. Police lined the fences and blared out to the crowd to disperse.
With Trump quickly leaving Eugene and his supporters going home for the night, the crowd began to disperse a few hours later. Many students stayed until the end including Zach King, a Lane student.
“It’s a human rights issue,” King said. “This protest is about community and we don’t tolerate hate or discrimination of any kind here.”