A crowd of well over 20,000 people attended President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on Thursday, bringing out a diverse set of perspectives in both support and opposition of President Trump.
“I think everybody has their own opinion and [we] have to let everyone have their own opinion,” Melinda Kirkland said of the range of perspectives represented at the rally on Thursday.
A group of Kurdish-Americans made up the largest protest group. They went to speak out against President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria. Protesters held flags and signs in support of Kurdistan while chanting “stop the Kurdish genocide,” and “support your Kurdish allies.”
— Macy Debnam (@macy_debnam) October 18, 2019
As the evening progressed the group grew in numbers and in volume. Rabar Dargalayi spoke on behalf of the group, saying that since Kurdish-Americans feel a sense of loyalty to both sides, the situation is even more difficult for them.
“It hurts for us twice because or country [the United States] is betraying our home country. We have relatives, we have friends, we have people that are giving their lives on a daily basis,” Dargalayi said.
One neon green sign stood out among the sea of red and blue. It read: “I might be gay, but I’m not stupid” on the front, and “America needs Trump!” on the back. The woman holding this sign was Nicole Rogers of Roswell, New Mexico.
“I’m a conservative. Always have been. But I’m gay, I never had a choice on the other, you know to be straight or not,” Rogers said.
“I never in my life thought that I would be holding a sign telling everybody that I’m gay because I am conservative, but I feel that it’s crucial to show people that we need to come together.”
— Macy Debnam (@macy_debnam) October 21, 2019
Rogers stood alone holding the sign proudly while wearing a smile. She notd that this was not something she ever expected to have to do in her lifetime.
“I never in my life thought that I would be holding a sign telling everybody that I’m gay because I am conservative, but I really feel that it’s crucial to show people that we need to come together,” Rogers said. “I want people to see that it doesn’t matter, we’re all Americans and we’re here for the same reason.”
A smaller protest group held signs and wore shirts with the words “We Vape! We Vote!,” as they chanted the words between puffs of their vaping devices.
— Macy Debnam (@macy_debnam) October 22, 2019
This group consisted of several vape shop owners from across Texas, protesting President Trump’s attempt to ban flavored vape products in the interest of preventing underage usage of nicotine products. Schell Hammel of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association protested alongside shop owners.
“Trump has said that he wanted to take flavors off the market for the youth prevention, and these shops are all about doing exactly that, and we know exactly how to do it,” Hammel said.
Hammel said that one of the group’s main demands is to get vape products out of convenience stores, claiming that this is where most of this underage selling occurs. She also noted their desire to see high-nicotine products be taken off of the market, as to further help users ween off of the smoking devices.
Dallas resident Melinda Kirkland attended the rally decked out in her Trump attire. Her mother was also there, both were avid Trump supporters. Kirkland had only positive things to say about the event, stressing the importance of getting out to physically support the candidates you are passionate about.
“It is nice to be in the environment and just to show that you do support your party and your President,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland believed it was important to respect political leaders, even if you don’t entirely agree with everything that they do.
“As Americans, I feel like whoever is our President we need to stand up for them, because if we don’t stand up for them, then other countries aren’t going to respect them,” Kirkland said. “If we all stand behind them maybe they can get things done. Not separatism, but togetherness and support.”