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Trump mocks protestors at Grand Rapids rally

Dozens of protestors attended the sold out Donald Trump rally at the Deltaplex, chanting with signs at the entrance and getting tossed out of the venue.

/Alexander Sinn

Protestors chant anti-bigotry message at Trump rally

Protestors chant anti-bigotry message at Trump rally /Alexander Sinn

/Alexander Sinn

Protesters attended the record-breaking rally for Republican primary frontrunner Donald Trump in Grand Rapids on Monday, several of whom were escorted out from the crowd of 7,000 at the Deltaplex’s largest ever event.

At the entrance to the venue, a group of 50 protesters waved signs and chanted at supporters on their way into the Deltaplex in response to Trump’s treatment of Mexican immigrants and Muslims in his rhetoric.

Protester Mike DeRuiter expressed concern with Trump’s rhetoric.

"The brand of hate and fear that Trump and his supporters are pushing is dangerous," he said. 

DeRuiter said Trump’s immigration stance is discriminatory.

“There comes a time when calling for rounding up immigrants, Muslims and labeling them all as bad must be stopped,” he said. “Trump talks about identifying immigrants, Muslims, but what is he going to do, make them wear yellow stars?”

Trump opponent Stacy McCarthy said she agrees with the Trump’s call to address the American immigration system.

“I understand the need to streamline the immigration process and to prevent illegal immigration,” she said.

However, McCarthy criticized Trump’s approach.

“Just blocking people out and making it harder to get in will only make matters worse,” she said. “It is already difficult enough as it is to become an American citizen.”

Michael Galbuto, an undecided voter, said that from a practical standpoint, Trump’s rhetoric is too extreme.

“How much do you want to get done?” Galbuto said. “If you pick a relatively extreme candidate, the question becomes will they actually be able to accomplish anything. Trump can’t implement any of the policies he’s trying to run on. No one in the House or Senate would allow his ideas to pass.”

During Trump’s speech, in which he appealed to Michigan voters by pledging to revive the auto industry, several protesters were thrown out of the rally. Trump interrupted himself to taunt them as they were escorted out by his security staff.

“We got nine or 10 thousand people in here,” Trump said as the first protester was removed. “They’ll talk about one guy… there’s nobody outside. Nobody showed up.”

Trump referred in his speech to past experiences with protesters, and said the media either perceived him as too tough or too soft depending on his treatment of them.

After the second protester was tossed, Trump said, “That was the same guy, fellas. He came back for seconds.”

As a third was removed, he said, “Hey, they’re very nice guys. Very noncombatant. I never saw people, they say, ‘Please leave,’ and they walk out.”

A woman in the audience began to protest.

“Oh, she doesn’t sound very tough,” Trump responded. “That’s a very weak voice. Still a little louder. We can’t hear you, darling. Wow, that’s not a protestor prime, right?”

An audience member threw a small item at a protestor, who was quickly dragged out.

“Oh, he’s so brave,” Trump said. “So brave. He’s holding up his hands like he’s Mike Tyson, he’s going to throw a punch. So brave.”

After another protester was removed, Trump turned around at the podium, his back facing the audience, which began applauding and chanting his name.

At least two more protesters were tossed from the event, followed by applause, the chanting of “USA” and Trump calling them “losers.”

Grand Rapids native Jeff Genzink, who attended the rally with his son, said the protesters outside the venue didn’t bother him.

“I did not walk through them,” he said. “But that’s the great thing about this country. We have freedom of speech.”

Genzink, who identifies as a conservative and says he plans to vote for whoever wins the GOP nomination, said he’s still listening to what Trump has to say.

“I like that he’s free-spoken, and that he’ll say what’s on his mind instead of being cagey,” Genzink said.

He said he appreciates that Trump speaks more bluntly than other candidates.

“Overall I just find him refreshing, that he will say what’s on his mind, he will not be worried about the polls,” Genzink said. “Any candidate who does that, I give them credit for it.”

Sharon Schmaltz, a Trump supporter from Nortonville, Mich., said she yelled “Trump!” at the protestors as she walked by.

“I thought they have nothing to do,” she said. “I feel like whether you want to vote for Trump or you don’t want to vote for Trump, or whatever it is, you should go and see it all. Go see what the anarchists say. Go see what the Republicans say. Go see what the Democrats say.”

Schmaltz, wearing a Trump button on her sweater and posing with family for a photo op in front of a glowing American flag display outside the Deltaplex front entrance, said she never had an interest in Trump before the 2016 election, but she appreciates his candor.

“I’ve done enough research on him and he’s honest,” she said. “He’s an honest guy.”

In an attempt to appeal to Michigan residents, Trump took on the Ford Motor Company’s recent decision to build a car factory in Mexico. Trump proposed that a 35 percent tax be placed on all future car imports, even those built by domestic automakers located overseas, to prevent American job loss.

“Detroit needs a lot of help, and it certainly needs a lot of help when factories are closing to move to Mexico,” Trump said. “We just can’t have that."

Trump referred to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's 2008 primary loss to President Obama with the use of an offensive term regarding a male appendage, saying she got "shlonged." He defended Russian President Vladimir Putin's treatment of reporters, calling journalists "disgusting" but saying he wouldn't kill them.

Trump iterated the talking points of his stump speech, emphasizing jobs going overseas and competition with China. He drew constrast between himself and other candidates, referencing recent polls numbers showing him in the lead. 

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