Trump rally draws thousands to Lynden

Protesters line the streets outside the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s speech on May 7. The Trump rally drew thousands of supporters and protesters to Lynden. See more photos from the rally online at thenorthernlight.com.  Photo by Steve Guntli

Protesters line the streets outside the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s speech on May 7. The Trump rally drew thousands of supporters and protesters to Lynden. See more photos from the rally online at thenorthernlight.com.
Photo by Steve Guntli

By Steve Guntli

The town of Lynden was bustling last weekend after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a stop at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds on May 7.

Trump’s visit marked the first time a presidential candidate has visited Whatcom County since 2000, when Democratic candidate Bill Bradley made a campaign stop. Trump’s visit came as something of a surprise to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department, which only received two days’ notice. Typically, candidates let local law enforcement know about a visit at least two weeks in advance, to allow enough time to arrange security for the event.

Trump made campaign stops in Lynden and Spokane on Saturday to drum up support in advance of the Washington Republican primary on May 24. The businessman and former reality TV star is the presumptive nominee for the Republican party after his last two challengers, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich, dropped out of the race last week, but he has not yet secured the 1,247 delegates required for a nomination.

Trump has drawn ire from both Democrats and Republicans for his off-the-cuff style of speaking and unprecedented policy positions, most famously his proposals to deport more than 11 million undocumented illegal immigrants and bar Muslims from entering the country. He’s also drawn a large number of fervent supporters, many of whom lined up outside the fairgrounds in Lynden hours before he was due to speak.

Trump had received a frosty reception from officials and residents when his team tried to organize a rally in King County. Seattle protest groups effectively blocked the speaking engagement, forcing the Trump campaign to set up rallies in Spokane and Lynden instead.

Governor Jay Inslee publicly denounced Trump in a press conference on May 6. Inslee, who was joined by Democratic legislative representatives and leaders from the Latino and Muslim communities of Seattle, accused Trump of fear mongering and encouraging racial hatred.

“Donald Trump is running a dangerous campaign,” Inslee said. “He’s putting forth dangerous policy proposals, and his dangerous rhetoric is actively harming families today in the state of Washington. Your hate is not welcome in our state.”

District 42 state senator Doug Ericksen worked with the Trump campaign to organize the event on a local level.

“We’re going to work with local law enforcement to create a secure environment that will allow people who want to protest peacefully have their say, but also make sure that we’re taking care of the security of people who want to hear Trump speak,” Ericksen said in an interview with KING 5.

Trump’s rhetoric remained much the same as it has at other campaign stops. He repeatedly promised that America was going to start “winning” again, promised to build a massive wall between the U.S. and Mexico and vowed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November. Trump’s rallies have been the scene of occasional violence, but the Lynden rally was peaceful.

The rally did attract its fair share of protesters, many of whom lined Front Street opposite supporters. Protesters and supporters traded slurs and insults, with detractors holding signs and chanting slogans like “Love Trumps Hate,” but no incidents of physical violence were reported.

Three people were arrested for attempting to block Trump’s route along the Guide Meridian. A group of protesters turned themselves into a human barricade across the busy street near Lynden in the hopes of preventing Trump from speaking. Police and sheriff’s deputies broke up the barricade, and Trump’s motorcade got him to Lynden via an alternate route.

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