Meet the UTEP students who were kicked out of the Trump rally

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Meet the UTEP students who were kicked out of the Trump rally

Alex Vasquez and Luis Estrada are UTEP students who made it in to the Trump Rally. They were escorted out

Alex Vasquez and Luis Estrada are UTEP students who made it in to the Trump Rally. They were escorted out

Cassidy Kuester

Alex Vasquez and Luis Estrada are UTEP students who made it in to the Trump Rally. They were escorted out

Cassidy Kuester

Cassidy Kuester

Alex Vasquez and Luis Estrada are UTEP students who made it in to the Trump Rally. They were escorted out

EL PASO, Texas – In between the chants and silences that fell upon the crowd as President Trump spoke on Monday night, two University of Texas at El Paso students took the opportunity to speak their mind amidst a sea of red hats despite the impending backlash from the president and the throng of his supporters.

Thousands convened at the El Paso County Coliseum on a day promised to be a moment in history. The chill in the air did not deter the countless supporters and objectors alike from crowding the area only miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border.

In what was the first “Make America Great Again” rally of the new year, the president’s arrival came hot off the controversial remarks from the State of the Union address about the safety of El Paso’s city limits.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime— one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities. Simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” President Trump said in the House Chambers amongst a mass of diverse newly elected congress members.

In the highly polarizing environment created from the aftermath of a divisive 2016 presidential election, America seems to be more divided than ever. El Paso, with immigration policies at the forefront for the border city in recent days, was a prime example of those political divisions on Monday night.

For UTEP student and self-proclaimed “Beto supporter” Alex Vasquez, who infiltrated the rally with a friend, the hostility was palpable.

“It wasn’t until I was sat inside that arena that I felt that hate. And our country shouldn’t be built on hate. That hate is just… it’s unfathomable the amount of hate that they could feel, that energy. It’s the wrong energy for our country,” Vasquez said.

Emotions overtook Vasquez, and according to him he let that be known, especially when the coliseum was quiet. That is when they rained down their “boo’s” towards the president

There’s not doubt that the president’s rhetoric on the media and his detractors have inspired his supporters to act out, sometimes violently. With the push of a button President Trump can rile up his base within 280 characters on Twitter.

That night the president and his opening acts: Campaign Manager Brad Parscale, Senator John Cornyn, Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr., whipped up the crowd into a frenzy with anti-media sentiments.

“We all understand the fake news establishment media doesn’t want us to win, they want to control the narrative, they want it to be their America. We’re not gonna let that happen, we’re gonna continue to vote,” Parscale said as chants of “CNN sucks!” echoed down from all sides of the coliseum.

The anti-media language coagulated into a violent outburst, leading a BBC cameraman to be assaulted by a supporter as he yelled “f @#! the media!”

Some say that the president creates an atmosphere where his supporters feel emboldened to commit acts like these, such as the “MAGA bomber,” Cesar Sayoc, who mailed dozens of pipe bombs to critics of the president including CNN last year.

For Vasquez, his act of rebellion was an attempt at speaking out about the president and his policies, using his freedom to do so during the Trump rally among a crowd who did not want to hear it.

“[Trump supporters] are regular people just like me, we may have different thoughts on things, like they like Trump and I don’t. But I don’t think these people were going to really hurt me,” Vasquez said with a shrug, the rush of the moment still visible in his eyes.

When Vasquez and his friend and fellow UTEP student, Luis Estrada, were booted from the rally they left respectfully as to not cause any problems between them and the multitude of people sporting MAGA hats and carrying “build that wall” paraphernalia.

The president did not take well to their boo’s. Trump turned to look at them and said, “where do these people come from? Where do they come from? They go back home to Mommy. They get punished when they get home.”

Trump, evidently, does not enjoy when his speeches are interrupted by protestors.

“We weren’t there to start problems you know, I just felt it was my constitutional right to express how I felt. People didn’t like it, so they went down and reported us, and they had us escorted out,” Vasquez said.

After Vasquez and Estrada were kicked out, they sprinted out of the gates and ran into protesters who had just marched from Bowie High School to the coliseum with former U.S. Rep. and El Pasoan, Beto O’Rourke. The two were met with a plethora of high-fives.

“I just don’t believe in what his supporters believe. You know all that ‘build the wall’ stuff is sad, especially in a community like [El Paso]. To see that in a place where we’re living our everyday lives, we are affected by stuff like this,” Vasquez said.

Chants reverberated inside and out of the coliseum with some screaming “build the wall” and others repeating “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”

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