CHICAGO (Oct. 28) – For the first time since becoming president, Donald Trump flew into the Windy City early on this Monday morning, At noontime, he'd be hosting more than 200 wealthy donors at a fundraising luncheon. Where? At the Trump Tower, of course – his own luxury hotel, located along the Chicago River in downtown Chicago.
Across the river, a throng of protesters was gathering, poised to greet – or more accurately, object to – the president's arrival. Angry chants, unsubtle signs, ironic taunts, and unfettered animosity awaited the leader of the free world, though he was hardly likely to see any of the scathing expressions of displeasure from the boisterous gathering.
Shortly before the announced 11:30 starting time, another crowd was marching toward Trump Tower from a separate protest held half a mile south, focusing specifically on immigration issues.
As we approached the area of the primary rally, a string of protesters appeared, marching north on Michigan Avenue toward the hotel. Evidently, the immigration activists had left their gathering spot and were parading on their own, to meet up with those who went directly to the Trump Tower location.
Signs, whether handwritten on cardboard or professionally created, are an integral part of nearly every political demonstation. Rather than duplicate or modify those that had appeared at previous events over the past three years, creative activitsts had clearly been busy coming up with new ones:
"Make America Great Again. Deport Trump."
"The Fake President"
"Kremlin Employee of the Month (handwritter with several simulated Russian letters)
"Immigrants are welcome here," said a sign prepared by the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)," but NOT Trump."
Two sign-wielding ladies were dressed in black, wearing pointed "witch" hats that recalled the "hunts" of several centuries ago. Not to mention the angry assertions of "witch hunt" presented by the current resident of the White House.
Chants erupted periodically, some uttered by many of those present, others emanating from a smaller group. "The people, united," one declared, "will never be divided."
"Ain't no power like the power of the people," cried one group of chanters who weren't worried about grammatical precision, "cuz the power of the people don't stop."
Some signs couldn't be simpler or more direct:
"Worst President Ever"
"Trump Is In Violation of the Constitution and Human Decency"
"No To Family Separation"
Participants had been encouraged to make noise, drawing a gaggle of amateur drummers and what one observer called a sousaphone. Musical skills might have been marginal, but was greatly outweighed by enthusiasm.
Quite a few protesters blew on tiny whistles. Rather than simply inject more noise into the demonstration, they could easily be assumed to suggest the "whistleblower" of the White House, who has made threatening allegations about Donald Trump's misdeeds in office.
Throughout the demonstration, no one could ignore the Trump Tower looming above the Chicago River, its gigantic "TRUMP" lettering serving as an ever-present reminder of the reason why protest rallies have been – and will continue to be – necessary.
Counting crowd size is both an art and a mathematical technique. Estimates sometimes disagree sharply. Finding a suitable vantage point from which to roughly "count" a crowed is often difficult, if not impossible.
Tirekicking Today estimated the crowd at less than 1,000; the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper figured "more than 1,000." The New York Times reported "thousands."
One local TV station claimed that 6,000 protesters were in attendance. Unless a few thousand anti-Trumpers were hidden among the high-rise buildings across from Trump Tower, that estimate seems wildly exaggerated.
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Text and photos by James M. Flammang