Buffalo, NY—The protests against Donald Trump on Monday weren’t the biggest he faced, nor will they dominate the next-day media coverage. Judging by early returns, that honor will go to Trump’s odd mistake of calling the September 11, 2001, terror attacks “7/11.”
But that doesn’t mean the protests aren’t important. As Trump travels the country during the never-ending Republican primary, he is continually activating dedicated resistance from activists who risk arrest, and worse, to deliver their message. That was certainly the case in Buffalo, where a large group of young residents, many of them black, engaged in civil disobedience aimed at disrupting one of the largest rallies of Trump’s presidential campaign.
The city was the perfect stage for Trump. Local businessman Carl Paladino ran for governor in 2010 with themes now recognizable as Trumpian: deliberate political incorrectness, articulated rage at elites, and a hard-right platform. In Erie County, which contains Buffalo, he walloped Rick Lazio in the Republican primary with over 90 percent of the vote.
During his warm-up speech for Trump in the First Niagara Center on Monday, where 11,000 people created a rock-concert atmosphere for the mogul, complete with an arena-wide wave, Paladino rehashed these same themes while exhorting the genius of Trump’s planned wall on the southern border.
“That wall means so many different things to us. It means an end to our acceptance of a media thinking for us and telling us how to act. It means what we’ve watched for the past seven years in Washington is disgusting, and we’re tired of it, and we’re not gonna take it anymore,” he said. Paladino directed the crowd to turn around and face the media pen at the back of the arena floor.
“Turn around and tell that to the press. Tell them how mad we are. You’ll notice that they put their pants on the same way we do, one leg at a time. There’s nothing special about those people,” Paladino thundered, as the crowd jeered the assembled local and national media. “That festering anger that we’ve been carrying with us for so long—and suddenly a guy comes on the scene who not only thinks the way we think but he speaks the way we think, and we know he will do what we think.”
In a brilliant marketing coup, Trump got Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan to introduce him and whip the crowd into a frenzy. And who better to stump for Trump than a football coach who has spent the past year bombastically promising wins that he can’t deliver? (The Bills missed the playoffs once again last year, for the 16th straight season.)