My First Rally | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

My First Rally | Planet Ryan

By on March 30, 2016 at 8:10 am

When I first heard Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was coming to St. Louis, I knew there was no way in this world I was missing it. His political rallies have turned into these surreal events that are memorable for life – for better or worse.

St. Louis was no exception. A friend and I headed out that Friday morning to downtown St. Louis fairly early to make sure we were guaranteed a decent seat inside Peabody Opera House, where “The Donald” was set to speak at noon.

Upon arrival to the city, we caught a glimpse of the crowd lined up at the gates and were somewhat shocked so many people were already there. Little did we know it was a small fraction of what was already lined up around several city blocks.

St. Louis city police officers were working alongside U.S. Secret Service agents to establish a hard barrier between anti-Trump protesters and Trump supporters. It’s a good thing they did, because it was quite the lively crowd.

As cops directed us to the massively long line, we weren’t confident at that point we’d actually make it inside. Using some napkin math, we figured there were roughly 3,000 people in front of us – roughly Peabody’s capacity.

To our amazement, as the hours passed standing in line, roughly 2,000 additional people lined up behind us.

Three hours passed of waiting patiently and we finally made it to the front of the building — but not before walking by a large gathering of anti-Trump disrupters who screamed some of the most vulgar things I’ve heard in some time. If they weren’t stomping on the American flag, they were yelling at us, elderly folks, children and anyone else who would give them a second of their attention.

I found it odd that these people were so incredibly angry that I was expressing my First Amendment right to listen to a United States presidential candidate speak at a rally. Upon my initial observation, many of them were holding signs in support of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

My friends and I don’t go to Sanders rallies and cuss, spit and throw things at people standing in line to see him speak. I mean, I couldn’t possibly be in further disagreement with Sanders-style politics, but since I’m a decent human being, I wouldn’t dream of showing up at a Sanders rally to scream four-letter words at children and veterans while attempting to stifle their Constitutional rights.

It was truly an embarrassing sight.

After making it through the mess of protesters, we were the last group to make it in the building. It was ridiculously crowded and we were initially sent to an “overflow” room, but we were finally able to make it inside the main room to watch the end of the event.

It was my first political rally and definitely one I won’t soon forget. The angry crowd outside – made up of a number of radical left-wing professional protesters – tried to stop us. But they failed.

Would I go again? Absolutely.

Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.