Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump gathered in downtown Denver on Friday morning in anticipation of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s appearance at the Western Conservative Summit.
Under a light rain, sign-wielding protesters from all sides of the spectrum voiced their opinions about the presidential race, its candidates, and our political and economic systems in general. The anti-Trump contingent outnumbered his fans by about three to one, but one of the shared overriding themes to the demonstrations was the disenchantment virtually all the participants seem to have with our politics and policies.
Pockets of law enforcement monitored the gathering, and the entire sidewalk in front of the Colorado Convention Center was gated off. Attendees of the Summit boarded buses at nearby hotels and were driven into the complex so they didn’t have to wade through the crowds.
Although there were plenty of heated discussions between Trump’s supporters and detractors, as of 10 a.m. there were no obvious signs of violence, nor were there many overt slurs aimed in either direction. As two opponents ranted at each other in front of a crowd of onlookers, a Native American woman drifted around them, wafting burning sage over them to cleanse the “negative energy.” (She was later briefly detained by police and issued a summons, prompting a sarcastic rejoinder from one observer.)
A short while later and one block over, when one anti-Trump protester referred to a small group of self-proclaimed “Three Percenters”—a militia movement that claims to defend the Constitution—as white supremacists, a few of the men verbally challenged the claim, and within a few minutes all parties were talking calmly with each other.
The signs themselves were a mix of protest sloganeering and occasional wit: One bemoaned the possibility of having a “mango toupee” in the White House, and plenty of others offered punny takes on Trump’s name. There also were banners that warned against the recent “Brexit” and subsequent “Regrexit” news from Great Britain.
A group of Trump supporters are planning a demonstration on the western steps of the Capitol building at 1 p.m., not far from the temporary wall in Civic Center Park that pro-immigrant groups built to protest Trump’s proposal to erect an actual wall along our border with Mexico. So even though the morning events haven’t triggered any violence or ugliness, it could be a long day for police and anyone who works or lives downtown.
*Update: Around 11 a.m., police made several arrests amid reports of intensifying protests.
—Photos by Jerilyn Forsythe