Trump Event Draws Critics, Supporters To Bolingbrook

Elizabeth Cervantes, of Naperville, (center) asks for both sides to cool down as protesters and critics of Donald Trump face off in Bolingbrook Sept. 28. (Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff)

Crowds of demonstrators face off outside presidential candidate’s private Bolingbrook fundraiser Sept. 28

By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff

Threatening skies stayed clear long enough for the more than 150 people gathered outside the Bolingbrook Golf Club Sept. 28 to let their voices be heard.

Supporters and critics of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gathered to let the embattled head of the GOP know how they felt about his presence in Bolingbrook, which was due to a brief but profitable private fundraising event sponsored by Mayor Roger Claar.

Among shouts of “No Trump, No Way” and a handful of tense but, ultimately, peaceful confrontations between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators, the crowd waved signs and flags showing why they thought Trump is either the best, or worst, person for the job.

Jo, a vocal supporter of Trump, had some strong words for critics of Hispanic descent. The Chicago resident, who declined to give her last name, parroted Trump’s claim that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is simply using Hispanics for their votes.

“Once they get their vote their going to get dumped, just like the African Americans have always been dumped,” Jo said. “That’s why we’re standing up and telling them the truth. The Democrats have bought all you people.”

But Eduardo, a Mexican immigrant who was brought to the U.S. as a child and attended Bolingbrook High School, said the views from the right on Mexicans and others Latinos is skewed, if not flat wrong.

“They call us illegals, they call us immigrants, they say we’re not from this country, and they call us drug dealers and rapists,” said Eduardo, who also declined to give his last name. “I have a daughter, I work, I make my money, I’ve never been to jail, I’ve never sold any drugs, nothing like that. I’m not racist, Trump tries to make us look like violent people, and I’m just trying to say that we’re not.”

Holding a sign that read “Married. White. Business Owners. The only demographic not yet targeted by Trump’s hate,” Bolingbrook resident Joe Giamanco said he was offended by the candidate’s rhetoric.

“I’m an attorney, and when I see injustice I have a real problem with it,” he said. “Everything I see that comes out of Trump has been an attack on pretty much everybody but ‘me’ so far. It’s not right and it needs to stop.

“I fear at this point that a lot of those folks, no matter what you say to them, no matter what you tell them, no matter what comes out of Trump’s mouth, it won’t make a difference,” Giamanco added. “They put such blinders on, they’re blind to it all.”

Others at the rally criticized the Bolingbrook mayor’s support of Trump.

Patti Droogan was born and raised in Bolingbrook, and said she and other area residents organized the group Suburban Families Against Hate as soon as they heard about the fundraiser.

“We are very disappointed in our mayor because he has insulted this entire community,” she said. “It’s very disappointing because this is supposed to be a community that encompasses everybody, and he’s inviting somebody into this town that has insulted our Muslim brothers and sisters, that has insulted our black brothers and sisters, that has insulted women… So, it speaks volumes to Mayor Claar’s character.”

But, Trump also drew minority support at the event, as some black and Hispanic demonstrators stood up for their candidate.

“We want to break the stereotypes,” said Alexander Rodriguez, of Joliet. “The narrative says that if you’re a minority, if you’re young you should be voting for Hillary and be part of the Democratic Party, and it’s just not true.

Rodriguez said he attended the demonstration to show Trump that he’s welcome in Illinois.

“I’m young, I’m of Hispanic decent, but I proudly support the Republican party, and I proudly support Mr. Trump,” he said.

Inside the event, the air was electric, according to a handful of individuals who attended the fundraiser and joined demonstrators after its conclusion.

David Diersen of the online publication GOPUSA said Mayor Rudi Giuliani spoke during the event, but added that he was even more impressed by Trump himself.

“He really was prepared,” Diersen said. “He rattled off all kinds of names of the people in the audience, and that [shows] you’re prepared to be a public speaker, you know the big shots in the audience. I liked that; his optimism, his humor.”

As far as the first debate between Trump and Clinton, Diersen said that while Trump didn’t address his performance at the fundraiser, he thought that his candidate came across in a positive light.

“I’m reluctant to be critical, I really try to look for the positive,” Diersen said. “It’s a big deal to debate Hillary, so who am I to judge.”

The fundraiser pulled in a reported $1.5 million for Trump’s campaign. For those who made their way inside, tickets reportedly cost between $1,000 and $250,000 per person.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Samples.

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