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Is This Candidate What He Is Trumped Up To Be?


photos and interviews by Montpelier reporters Ivan Shadis and Jose Aguayo


Editor’s Note: Two writers/photographers for The Bridge, Ivan Shadis and Jose Aguayo, went to Burlington on January 7 to catch up with people who came to hear presidential candidate Donald Trump speak. They had tickets, but so did 18,000 others for the space that fits under 2,000. They did not get inside the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts that night. Instead, they spoke to those waiting outside to get a perspective.


Matt Cropp

Matt Crop
Matt Cropp

Ivan Shadis: Can you tell me what you’re doing here right now?

Matt Cropp: I am protesting the appearance of Donald Trump in Burlington.

Shadis: I see you’re not alone in this, and that you’ve descended upon the scene among a big large chanting crowd, can you tell me what that is?

Cropp: Really there’s just a call out for a mass mobilization at the top of Church street at 4:30, everyone who got that call showed up at 4:30 and marched down.

Shadis: Where did you get your call?

Cropp: A friend invited me to an event on Facebook.

Shadis: And what has inspired you to come out here in protest of Trump?

Cropp: I think Trump represents a very dangerous thread in American politics that goes beyond the normal reactionary conservatives who are at least leavened  by a bit of classic liberalism that stops them being too tempted by authoritarianism. Trump seems to have none of that and represents a very dangerous, authoritarian, fascist thread in American politics. I think our community needs to come together, know who all the people are who oppose that so that if, God forbid, he’s elected, we’re ready to organize.

Shadis: As we look around at the crowd, we see a couple of signs in support of Bernie Sanders. Do you have an opinion on Bernie Sanders?

Cropp: Trump is a showman, he’s coming to do something in the town where Bernie was mayor for 10 years. The response here, from my perspective, should be about opposing bigotry and authoritarianism of Trump rather than supporting any one candidate. I’m here because I think we need to be unified against this threat.

Harry Laughy
Harry Laughy


Harry Laughy, Fairfax

Shadis: Can you tell me what you’re doing out here tonight?

Laughy: I’m out here to support our candidate Donald Trump

Shadis: Can you tell me what you find in Trump specifically that has you choosing him over the other candidates?

Laughy: The United States of America is a business that’s almost bankrupt. It’s going to take a professional experienced man with honesty and integrity to restore this country.

Shadis: When we look out here on this crowd we’re going to see a lot of Bernie supporters, do you have an opinion on that candidate?

Laughy: I’m not out here to disparage any other candidate, I’m here for Donald, I’m not out here against anyone. I’ve been out here since ’68. I know how a rally works. You’re going to have a lot of people who are going to want to turn it into a protest or a contest, that’s fine. I’m here to support my man. This [his sign] doesn’t say I don’t like Bernie, this says I like Donald Trump.

Shadis: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Laughy: Donald Trump makes me proud to be an American.


Finn Yarbrough

Shadis: Can you tell me what you’re doing out here tonight?

Yarbrough: Well, it’s pretty simple, we’re here to send light, peace, and compassion into the gathering there and amongst one another as an alternative to anger and hatred.

Shadis: Do you feel that there’s something embodied here which is hateful, and which is what you’re responding to?

Yarbrough: Yeah, I think that Trump’s campaign so far has awakened a kind of a fear and mutual suspicion that is to some extent inherent in human nature but it doesn’t need to be fed, and we want to appeal to the better angels of our nature and not the worse one.

Shadis: Can you tell me about this gathering, I see that it’s not just you here, I see a couple of other individuals who have candles.

Finn Yarbrough, Leona Aiguier, Richard Aiguier (Hinesburg)
Finn Yarbrough, Leona Aiguier, Richard Aiguier (Hinesburg)

Yarbrough: There are about 50 of us here who will be committed to silence.


Richard Aiguier

Richard Aiguler: Racism is not helpful, which Donald Trump seems to be projecting, and neither is the religious bigotry that he seems to be projecting and neither really seems to be something that should be brought as a topic for presidential qualifications and it’s divisive and I’d like to see a calming.

Shadis: Do you have an opinion on Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates? Is there someone specifically who you would like to see in office, or is it only that you are opposed to Trump?

Aiguier: I would support any of the Democratic candidates, I would prefer Bernie Sanders because I think he understands what some of the basic problems are in this country better than some of the other candidates, but whoever is the Democratic nominee I would vote for because Donald Trump might be the most outrageous Republican candidate but his sentiments are somewhat shared by some of the other Republican candidates as well. I would prefer a Democrat.

Randy Leavitt
Randy Leavitt, East Barnard: “Trump is a very sad person, he is just filled with hate and he hasn’t grown up … to me, he acts like a 4-year-old. I hate to cast aspersions on 4-year-olds, but he is just having a tantrum right now. It’s sad really … the fact that he has so many children — little spoiled children — on his side is sad.”


Brandon Del Pozo, Burlington Chief of Police

“So far this is great, we have protesters, we have supporters, we have people voicing their opinions — but they are all obeying the law; they are patient, so I am encouraged at the way things are working out. This is a great example of, of you know, dissent and expression — so far … We have at least 500 protesters — protesting Trump — by our estimates … and then the line, last we checked (which was two hours ago) was over 1,000 people just then — it’s probably more now.” 

“Trump said today, ‘hey listen, why don’t you let me simulcast this?’ If two weeks ago he said, I want to do a venue at the Flynn and I want to simulcast, we would have coordinated for that, but you can’t overbook the Flynn and then say ‘now because I overbooked this, you have to give me City Hall Park as a simulcast, we need time to prepare for that — that wasn’t on the table.”