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El Paso shows both love and hate for President Donald Trump

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El Paso shows both love and hate for President Donald Trump

Brianna Chavez, Copy Editor

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As “Proud to Be an American” played inside the El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 Paisano Drive, President Donald Trump made his way to the podium to speak in front of thousands of people Feb. 11. The speech, about an hour long, is part of Trump’s “Finish the Wall” campaign, as the 2020 election campaign season kicks off.

People lined up hours before the doors opened to the public. Retailers took the opportunity to sell “Make America Great Again Hats” for $10 a piece, as well as Trump shirts, buttons and flags.

“(My family and I) are Trump supporters,” said merchandise retailer Jeff Brown, who has attended Trump rallies in Oregon, Montana and New Mexico. “There’s a lot of people, but there’s always a lot of people at these rallies.”

The gates opened around 3 p.m., and attendees were allowed into the arena. By 5 p.m. the arena met its capacity, but thousands more gathered outside the arena parking lot to witness the event.

According to officials, almost 7,000 people saw the president in person, while about 6,000 watched him via livestream outside in the coliseum parking lot. Trump said that 69,000 people requested a ticket for the event and 10,000 people were allowed inside.

Among the rally’s attendees were Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, state Sen. Ted Cruz and the president’s son, who actively rallied the crowd before Trump’s arrival. 

The president addressed issues such as the economy, trade deals, immigration and his promise to build wall along the entire southern border.

Trump reiterated his claims from his State of the Union address last week that El Paso is a safer city since the construction of a stretch of border wall, which he credits with lowering the city’s crime rate.

Many in El Paso disagree. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar urged the president to take back his comments. According to data from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the El Paso Police Department, the rate of violent crime reached its peak in 1993, when more than 6,500 violent crimes were reported. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement fell by more than 34 percent and less than 2,700 crimes were reported. From 2006 to 2011, the number of violent crimes recorded in El Paso increased by 17 percent.

Trump stated that construction on the wall began along the Rio Grande Monday.

“We’ve built a lot of it,” he said.

The Associated Press reported construction is beginning on about 14 miles of extended barrier approved by congress last year. Meanwhile, a special conference committee is working to come up with an agreement regarding Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to fund the border wall, in an attempt to prevent another government shutdown. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 15. Last month, a disagreement on funding caused the government to be partially shut down for 35 days, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

“We’re still building that wall, just so you know,” Trump said during the rally.

In stark contrast to the president’s remarks, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, Escobar and other groups and individuals gathered to march against the border wall, prompting Trump to throw a few punches.

“We were all challenged by a man who lost an election to Ted Cruz,” Trump said.

Trump also took aim at media.

“We have suffered a totally dishonest media,” Trump said.

Trump said while he was being investigated for collusion with Russia, “fake news” should be accused of collusion. 

As Trump spoke Monday evening, several protestors were apprehended, pausing his speech multiple times. Another attendee attacked members of the media, pushing them and trying to knock cameras out of their hands.

While some saw the rally as a way to voice their differences with the president’s plans, Trump’s supporters saw the rally in a positive light.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said 34-year-old Omar Herndon, who came to the rally with two of his friends to witness history in the making. “It’s all about love and support here.”

Others suggested all Americans should support Trump.

“He’s sacrificing eight years of his life because he loves America,” said Robert Sawyer, 62.

Sawyer and his wife, Katie Grote, 51, were on their way from Florida to Tucson, Arizona when they heard Trump was making an El Paso stop. The couple has been to several rallies before and said it’s the energy that draws them to it.

“It’s about being around all these people that love America,” Sawyer said. “It’s almost like church for Americans. You know how you go to church and you feel the spirit? Well, you go to a Trump rally and you feel the spirit.”

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El Paso shows both love and hate for President Donald Trump