People from all over the country flocked to Denver to witness Donald Trump and other conservative leaders speak at the 2016 Western Conservative Summit, and unsurprisingly, the anti-Trump protesters followed, hoisting picket signs that said “Make America Smart Again, Don’t Vote Trump,” or “Dump Trump.”
“No justice. No peace,” was chanted loudly by dozens, while men appearing in mismatched U.S. military uniforms held signs that read “Veterans are not political props for hate,” and promoting #VetsVsHate.
Tensions heightened when the Denver Police Department responded to several altercations between Trump supporters and several of the protesters. One protester, nicknamed “Lex” (possibly for Lex Luthor) got into an altercation with a Trump supporter. Police arrested both and drove them away in a prisoner transporter. Shortly thereafter, tactical units and riot units surrounded the protesters at an intersection outside of the Colorado Convention Center.
The scene was similar to instances of protesters clashing outside a Chicago Trump rally in March and at a New Mexico rally in May.
Numerous protesters were arrested or cited for disobeying the orders of the police officers on scene.
Several convention attendees came out to counter the anti-Trump protesters. The attendees, employees of the conservative youth activist organization Turning Point USA, were met with disparaging remarks and middle fingers.
“These people have no idea what they are protesting,” said Ohio State University senior Devin Bilski. “They were pushing us and shoving us out of the way just because we are with the Western Conservative Summit.”
Bilski and several others engaged with a group of protesters. He recounted that he was “hit in the balls” and was ridiculed for being white by several minorities in the crowd.
Emily Perry, a deputy state director for Turning Point, faced a similar situation with protesters questioning her moral convictions.
“Basically, we all came in chanting ‘build the wall, build the wall,’ and people got very upset,” said Perry. “There were a lot of comments saying we are racist because we support legal immigration… things like that.” She said there was a lot pushing involved when she spoke with the protesters and a lot of “below the belt comments.”
“If your only argument for not voting for Donald Trump is that he’s a racist, I would really like to hear some examples of how he has ever been a racist,” Perry said. “Until he was the Republican nominee for president, he was never accused of being a racist.”
In his speech, Donald Trump, himself, said he was confident he can win the state of Colorado in the general election. As John Frank of The Denver Post put it, “Donald Trump is not ready to bury the hatchet with Colorado.”
“We do have to win Colorado,” Trump told the crowd in the packed convention hall. “I will be back a lot, don’t worry about it. I will be back a lot.”