For months, I’ve been excited to cast my first ballot for Donald Trump.
I’m 18 years old and attend college in North Carolina. I’ve been a passionate Trump supporter since the primary, debating his policies on Islamist terrorism and our flawed immigration system with my more liberal friends. I even bought a Donald Trump shirt; I’m extremely proud to wear it.
Then I attended my first political rally. And what happened there shook my faith.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Trump’s rally at Charlotte’s convention center. I had a great time waiting in line for the doors to open. Trump’s other supporters were extremely welcoming. I even purchased a second shirt from a street vendor. When they finally let us in, I was thrilled — I’d arrived early enough to get a spot near the front of the stage. I chatted with a couple of people and everyone was really kind. Then I got bored so I started listening to music.
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That’s when things took a turn for the worse.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see a man in a suit. He told me follow him. I was confused but did what I was told. He did not identify himself in any way. (The Trump campaign later identified the man as Eddie Deck, Trump’s head of security.) He took me to the back of the crowd and told me he knew who I was — a known protester. He didn’t give me a name of who he thought I was, or a picture or a description. He simply said that I had to leave.
I tried to explain that I had never been to a Trump rally and that I was a huge Trump supporter, but he didn’t care. He didn’t ask me for my license or to look at my shirts. He simply said that three people had pointed me out and that I needed to go. Immediately.
I was extremely angry. I told him that this is my first rally and that I am a huge Trump supporter, I would never protest him. But nothing helped. Three police officers showed up and told me that they were going to escort me out. I didn’t know what else to do, so I agreed to leave.
Then I felt another tap on my shoulder from the same man. This time, he told me that he’d let me back if I agreed not to disturb anyone. I felt very uneasy because some random man claimed to know me and made up lies about me. He even had the nerve to tell me that I was being the agitator. “I’m being the agitator?” I yelled. “You’re the one that came to me and told me that I had to leave.” At that point, he told the police officers to get me out. I was escorted out of the building.
I understand that Trump’s security officials have to look out for his safety and for the safety of the crowd. If Deck had come to me with a list of known protesters and asked for my identification, I would have been OK with that. If he had shown me a picture of the mystery person who allegedly resembles me, that would have been fine.
But that’s not what happened. I was wearing two shirts - my old Trump T-shirt and my new one. If Deck had asked me to show him both of them, I would have been glad to. He did none of these things. He simply said that I am known protester and that I must leave.
I am still conservative, and I’m still a Republican. But I can’t vote for Trump after that way I was treated. How can I support a candidate who won’t even let me into his rallies?
Here I am, a young, mixed-raced individual who wholeheartedly supported Trump, only to be rejected and ejected. I understand that Trump did not do this to me, but everything his campaign does reflects on him. All I want from Trump’s campaign is an apology and to acknowledge that what they did was extremely wrong. I supported his movement for months.
I poured a lot of energy doing research and promoting Trump, and this is how he repays me: kicking me out of his rally for absolutely no quality reason.
Jake Anantha is a student at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C.