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Donald Trump to visit Pittsburgh, students to protest

GOP+presidential+candidate+Donald+Trump+speaks+to+supporters+at+Lenoir-Rhyne+University+on+March+14%2C+2016+in+Hickory%2C+N.C.+%28Jeff+Siner%2FCharlotte+Observer%2FTNS%29
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Lenoir-Rhyne University on March 14, 2016 in Hickory, N.C. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Lenoir-Rhyne University on March 14, 2016 in Hickory, N.C. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

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GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Lenoir-Rhyne University on March 14, 2016 in Hickory, N.C. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

By Dale Shoemaker and Lauren Rosenblatt / The Pitt News Staff

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To usher presidential candidate Donald Trump to Pittsburgh, Pitt students are preparing to push back against what they call Trump’s negativity.

By the end of the day Monday, at least three student groups and one local organization had posted on Facebook that they would hold counter events to Trump’s Wednesday rallies in Oakland and Downtown.

While one student-led demonstration is focused on countering what they see as offensive language and violent actions, other individuals are crying foul over the presidential candidate’s misalignment with the Republican Party.

According to its website, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland will host the Republican presidential candidate and Fox News host Sean Hannity for a town-hall style event beginning at 5:30 p.m. Trump is also scheduled to appear Downtown for a rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center at 7 p.m., according to his campaign website.

Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, a group working toward Pitt’s divestment from fossil fuels; The Fourth Wave, a monthly feminist magazine; and WHAT’S UP Pittsburgh, a city-wide anti-racism group, are organizing one event together. USAS #31, Pitt’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops, posted on Facebook that it planned to organize a second event. ANSWER Pittsburgh, a local political organization, is also organizing a protest at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

In addition, some members of the Pitt College Republicans said they planned to demonstrate against Trump unaffiliated with the organization, and Pitt’s Campus Women’s Organization will host a safe space — a place where students can discuss sensitive and personal issues privately — in the William Pitt Union during Trump’s town hall.

Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, The Fourth Wave and WHAT’S UP Pittsburgh plan to hold a get-together where students, families and children can “counter [Trump’s] negativity,” according to Andrew Woomer, Fossil Free Pitt Coalition’s president.

Calling their demonstration “Stop Trump,” Woomer said the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition and the other groups wanted to show students and families “what a positive, inclusive space looks like.”

“We want it to be counter to the negativity that’s coming out of the Trump campaign,” Woomer said. “It’s going to be a positive, loving space.”

Amanda Chan, president of The Fourth Wave, said although Trump has specifically offended women in the past, the organization is mostly protesting his event because of the violence she said he champions. For example, Chan said Trump’s references to anti-Islamic sentiment have put Muslim women in danger, citing instances where Muslim women have been assaulted or their hijabs have been forcibly removed.

Chan said while she is coming to protest Trump, she is also attending the event to show support and solidarity for the marginalized groups that Trump singles out.

“I’m tired of giving him attention, but other people don’t have that priviledge, other people don’t get to ignore him,” Chan said. “I know Donald Trump’s words are hurting my friends. I’m showing an act of solidarity by going out there and protesting.”

At a meeting Monday night, Woomer and members of the other organizations outlined their “Love Trumps Hate” event and decided they will use flyers, social media and word of mouth to inform students. Chan said prior to the meeting that she expects news of the event to “spread like wildfire.”

According to Rosemary Geraghty, the business manager for Pitt’s College Republicans, the group does not have any plans for a counter protest because it does not want to officially endorse or oppose any specific candidate.

But Geraghty, a sophomore political science and communication major and self-described anti-Trump supporter, said she would support any individual members that choose to protest as an unaffiliated group.

Daniel Wright, a senior computer science major and self-described Trump supporter, said he plans to attend the protest with about six other Trump-supporting friends.

He said he would be open to a calm, rational discussion with anti-Trump voters, but he did not want to engage with the protesters as they were rallying.

Although Wright does not want to limit anyone’s freedom of expression, he said that it was important to expose college students to non-mainstream opinions in order to prepare them for life outside the bubble of the University.

“I think it would be hurting students to not have this experience happen,” Wright said. “If people despise Trump over what he says, don’t go.”

Although Wright described most Trump followers he knew as “closet supporters,” Geraghty is hoping some of them will come forward Wednesday.

“I hope that whether it be pro-Trump or anti-Trump, Pitt students get more politically active,” Geraghty said. “From what I’ve seen on social media as a reaction, I think that is going to happen, and I’m excited to see it.”

Jordan Drischler, a member of Pitt College Republicans who does not support Trump, is attending the event but does not have plans to participate in the protests. She encourages all students to attend the event, Trump supporter or not, because hearing a candidate speak live is a good way to disentangle the information a student may get secondhand from social media.

Drischler, a senior mechanical engineering major, said she hopes more Republicans will attend the event, as they are eligible to vote in the Pennsylvania Republican primary, which will be on April 26.

In order to win the nomination outright, a candidate must receive 1,237 votes, more than half of the possible delegate votes. If none of the candidates receive a majority of votes, delegates vote on the Republican nominee through a brokered convention until a majority is reached.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Trump leads Ted Cruz and John Kasich by nine points. None of the Republican candidates had reached a majority vote yet, meaning the upcoming primaries still have an effect on the nominee.

“It’s really interesting that we could have a say on who the nominee is, and for the first time, we’re seeing candidates target the area,” Drischler said. “[Pennsylvania] has a bunch of unbound delegates, and it’s exciting that our votes are going to determine who the Republican nominee is.”

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Donald Trump to visit Pittsburgh, students to protest