President Donald Trump hosted a rally in Greenville, North Carolina on Wednesday night that sparked a huge controversy and competing Twitter trends that lasted long into the night. The venue where Trump’s rally took place was packed with nearly 8,000 people. Read on to see crowd photos and learn more about what happened.
(See photos from Trump’s Cincinnati, Ohio rally here.)
The rally was held at East Carolina University’s Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina. According to the local Columbia Daily Herald, the venue was packed with 8,000 people. But in fact, more than 8,000 people attended. Hundreds were turned away at the door after the venue reached capacity. Many of those who were turned away stayed and watched the event on a large screen outside Minges, local publication Reflector noted.
It should be noted that although the venue was at capacity and hundreds had to be turned away, there were still a few empty seats in the venue in areas where the view would have been really bad, shared Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg. He wrote: “The 8000-capacity venue is quite full but there are indeed a smattering of empty seats (that’d have crummy views.)”
Thousands were lined up hours before doors opened, Fox 46 reported. The arena has a capacity of 8,000. Some people said they showed up 10 p.m. the night before and one man said he got there at 1 a.m. and hadn’t slept since, ABC 12 reported.
But the rally was also very controversial. Three days before the rally, Trump sent out a tweet that was highly controversial, even for him. He tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The tweet has since been the source of a lot of debate and news coverage, so he brought it back up during the rally.
“Let ’em leave… they’re always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don’t love it, tell ’em to leave it,” Trump told the cheering crowd.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist. (Four Republicans voted with the Democratic-led House.) However, the House also voted 332-95 on Wednesday to table a resolution calling to impeach Trump based on his tweets.
Trump said about the second vote during the rally: “Many of those people were Democrats and I want to thank them because they did the right thing for our country.”
He had choice words about all four women, but it was his words about Omar that got the most attention later on Twitter. Trump told the group that Omar blames the U.S. for 911 and accused her of supporting al Quaeda by not condemning them, Reflector reported. He said she “smeared U.S. service members in ‘Black Hawk Down.’ She slandered the brave Americans trying to keep peace in Somalia.”
After he talked about her, the crowd began chanting “Send her back!” over and over while Trump nodded.
It was the “send her back” chants that generated huge controversy later. A hashtag #IStandwithIlhan began trending as politicians and the public alike took to Twitter to show that they support Omar. But simultaneously, another group of people got #IStandwithPresTrump to also trend on Twitter.
Some people expressed confusion about the standing with President Trump hashtag:
Bernie Sanders joined the #IStandwithIlhan trend, writing: “#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress. Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.”
In fact, Omar became a citizen of the United States in 2000, nearly 20 years ago, the News Observer reported. Prior to that, she was a Somali refugee and was given asylum in the United States when she was a young child.
Even some who disagree with Omar were troubled with the “send her back” chants. Rep Mark Walker wrote: “Though it was brief, I struggled with the “send her back” chant tonight referencing Rep. Omar. Her history, words & actions reveal her great disdain for both America & Israel. That should be our focus and not phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities.”
Record noted that sometimes the crowd chanted so loud that they couldn’t hear Trump’s speech.
During his rally speech, Trump also criticized the media.
Trump ended the rally by exhorting the crowd to “Keep America Great,” his new catchphrase for 2020.