A group of University of Washington students showed their support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump by building a “Trump wall” on the school’s Red Square.
Two days after Donald Trump made his first campaign visit to Washington state, a group of University of Washington students erected a “Trump wall” on UW’s Red Square on Monday to show their support for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
About 10 Trump supporters, most of whom appeared to be UW students, erected the plywood wall at about 1 p.m. It was painted to resemble a brick wall, with the words “Trump Wall” painted over the bricks.
The crowd grew to more than 100 people, most of whom oppose Trump’s candidacy. Anti-Trump protesters waved signs saying “Stop Trump now” and “Immigrant lives matter,” and unveiled a long black banner that read: “Zero tolerance for walls or hate.” A man carrying a life-size cutout photo of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders wordlessly set it in front of the wall
Most of the students who passed by seemed amused or mildly curious, but a few got into heated arguments with Trump supporters, closing tightly in a circle around them as the event played out.
At 2 p.m. student Crystal Pino, helped up by fellow students, went over the 8-foot-high wall, to cheers from the crowd. The Trump organizers reportedly had said she could not get over, so she decided to try.
“I’m Mexican, and to see this all going on is really upsetting,” Pino said.
After that, UW police asked the organizers to lower the wall, and they did. By 2:30, the demonstration broke up.
Trump supporter Chevy Swanson, a UW sophomore and president of Students for Trump at the UW, said he knows about 20 Trump supporters on campus, and the number is growing — but that many supporters may be hiding their allegiance to the New York billionaire.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say some people would not want to be public supporters when the opposition is so overwhelming,” said Swanson, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. To be a Trump supporter “has social consequences on this campus.”
He said he’s supporting Trump because he agrees with his stance on immigration, gun rights and freedom of speech.
UW student Marcelo Ramirez, a senior in the Jackson School of International Studies and member of Huskies for Bernie, argued loudly with one of the Trump supporters, saying that Trump has it wrong — immigrants have contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
“This isn’t a Trump campus, by any means,” he said later. “I think we sent that message today.”
Junior Clarissa Thompson, who is half-Mexican, half-American, chalked messages on the Red Square bricks that included “Walls build hate” and “UW is for everyone.” She said her message was “not about politics — it’s about acceptance.”
Even before the wall went up, it generated controversy on Facebook. UW President Ana Mari Cauce wrote that she supported students’ right to express their ideas but called the wall “offensive.”
Cauce wrote that the wall appears “to celebrate ideals contrary to the values of an inclusive, global campus and our drive, as an educational institution, to connect as a diverse community of individuals, rather than to divide.”
Her comments got a “like” or “heart” from more than 340 readers on Facebook.
She wrote that “as someone who arrived in this country as a refugee and someone who believes you cannot have excellence without diversity, I stand in solidarity with the hurt and pain of refugees, exiles, or immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, who see this framing of the rally as demeaning and devaluing their worth to society and to this campus.”
Cauce was born in Cuba. Her father, Vicente, was the Cuban minister of education; the family fled the country in 1959, after Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government.