Sometime last week, UW sophomore Chevy Swanson created a Facebook event, “Huskies 4 Trump Rally.”
The rally sounded like a tough sell, what with the liberal political climate of Seattle, the ludicrousness of its cause, but Swanson, 18, was undeterred: “This will be our first meeting,” he said, noting that, in spite of that, “so far, we have seen a lot of success.” How much? “At the time of writing this, we are at 97 people going and 166 interested on Facebook.”
Chevy Swanson, creator, Huskies 4 Trump
What was on the agenda? “The current plan is for everyone who is a part of the event to meet up, eat snacks, and talk about what they want to talk about,” e-mailed Swanson. “It is just a gathering of people with a common interest, just like any other event.”
The level of discourse on the event wall promised a lively exchange of ideas. A gentleman named Nursalam Grlldcheese said, “calling all FASCISTS and RACISTS white supremacists on UW’s campus to redsquare so we can stand around … and ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’”; Swanson countered with a meme photo depicting Bernie Sanders sweating out a choice between “Create More Jobs” and “Raise the Minimum Wage”; someone else countered by adding a poll option to “What snacks should we bring,” with “dildos” quickly overtaking chips and soda.
On the afternoon of the rally, Swanson noted, on the event page, “We have had some concerns about racism here. I want to make it clear, that this is public and we can not remove people for being racist. So you will have to deal with the racist BLM [Black Lives Matter] and liberals. I am sorry.” As for how much of the event these racists would comprise, Swanson offered a pessimistic estimate: “I assume that around 100 people will show up, but actual Trump supporters will more likely be only 50 of them.”
The event was on the west side of campus, at 2 p.m. Across the pedestrian bridge over 15th, two police cars were parked. I showed up around 1:57 expecting a crowd worthy of the police presence, but there was only a small welter of people beginning to congeal on the steps above Red Square. Surely this couldn’t be everyone?
The Trump rally?
Nope—it was a counter-protest! “I think we need to stop racism, stop xenophobia, stop sexism,” said Jess Spear, one of the organizers. She took a minute to anti-capitalistically sell me the latest Socialist Alternative.
“Where are the Trump supporters?” I asked.
“Over there,” she said. “I think there’s two or three of them.”
I strolled in that direction. On a bench, among a rank and file of generic sodas and Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, sat Swanson. A woman of color, Natasha, was asking him, “Why can’t Trump tell his supporters to stop using racist language?”
“Because it’s not like they’ll just stop,” said Swanson. “It might just make it worse.”
“It might inflame them further,” added a guy who called himself Arin, “so maybe they’d form a splinter group.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Natasha.
Everyone was silent.
“What’s the agenda for today?” I asked.
“Just having some snacks, talking,” said Chevy.
“How many supporters are going to show up? Are those people behind me Trump supporters?”
“What about these guys?”
“I’m neutral,” said Jacob, the guy sitting next to Chevy.
“I’m just here for fun,” shrugged Arin.
The police presence, hilariously heavy, encompassed at least a dozen bikes, a bus, a paddy wagon, and a handful of officers on foot. One of them took advantage of a silence to pull Swanson aside.
Swanson is advised by security
“He told me some of the guys in black might try to provoke me,” Swanson explained.
Which is exactly what happened, a minute later. A fellow clad in a black hoodie and balaclava said, “So, Chevy Swanson. You have a big mouth on the Internet.”
“Yep,” said Chevy. “Who are you?”
“I’m a person. That’s a nice outfit. Where’s your petticoat?”
“Um, I’m wearing this.”
“Did you sew it yourself?”
“Yep, I sew my own clothes.”
“Have you ever considered joining a commune?”
“I guess not,” said Chevy, swigging a grape soda. “You want some snacks?”
The “person” in black glanced at the soda and cheetos. “You were supposed to bring dildos. Why didn’t you bring dildos?”
But his open aggression brought out no similar response from Swanson, who just smiled.
Back on the steps, the counter-protest was getting fired up. “Black lives matter,” they chanted. “Five, six, seven, eight, stop Trump, stop hate.” Then their group, perhaps fifty in number, marched across Red Square to confront the Trumpian menace.
The epic confrontation.
Carrying signs that read “Solidarity, Not Scapegoating,” “Dump Trump,” and “Trump is a Bafoon / Don’t Be His Goon,” they yelled, “Fuck! Trump! Fuck! Trump!” A man named Forrest, wearing a Trump shirt, danced a jig on the benches to the protestors’ cadence, then dismounted.
“Why are you wearing a Trump shirt?” a girl asked.
“I dunno,” said Forrest. “I wore a Hillary shirt to the Hillary rally, and a Bernie shirt to the Bernie rally.”
“What are you doing here?”
Forrest shrugged. “I’m just hangin’ out.”
“We’re all friends here,” said Swanson. And maybe that conciliatory attitude is what the Trump campaign needs to cover its proponents’ complete lack of policy knowledge, catch on in Washington, make America great again.
Swanson, with the movement he mobilized (background, with picket signs)
Alas, on Saturday, it was not to be. Shortly afterwards, a group of men started getting in Swanson’s face; the constabulary intervened; order was restored, but the rally was over.
“How many bona fide Trump supporters showed up?” I asked, later.
“After the police broke it up,” said Swanson, “I spoke with Trump supporters and just supporters of the rally, and I would say about ten to fifteen showed up in a non-protesting way. Maybe seven to eight for Trump.”
CML, a freelancer in Seattle, has written for Gawker, The Daily Dot, and several other publications. He maintains a website at cmlwrites.com and a Twitter at @CMLisawesome.