LATINO VOICES
09/14/2015 12:47 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2015

Trump Supporters Harass Immigration Protesters In Iowa

Trump supporters shouted things like "If it ain't white, it ain't right."

A group of Donald Trump supporters erupted in cheers and shouted racist comments outside an Iowa college stadium on Saturday when a woman tore the sign an anti-Trump demonstrator was holding in half.

A group calling themselves Students Against Bigotry staged a protest in the parking lot of Iowa State University's Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday during tailgating for the ISU-University of Iowa football game. Golf course aficionado and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to campaign in the tailgate area, but instead made an appearance inside the stadium. 

The ISU students were specifically protesting Trump's anti-immigrant comments, the Iowa State Daily reported. The poster that was destroyed, held by ISU senior Jovani Rubio, read, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." 

The woman who attacked the sign is from West Des Moines but is not an ISU student, according to the Iowa State Daily. She has since deleted her social media accounts. A moment before she rips the sign, she can be heard in a video saying that she's going to destroy the poster and "vote for white supremacy." 

In response to the poster being ripped, someone on camera shouts, "Get 'em, girl!" Others just cheer and shout, "Yeah!"

Cell phone videos of the incident were posted on YouTube and Twitter.  

Another sign that was not ripped read, "I did not struggle for 16 years to be called an anchor baby by my future president," according to photos posted on Tumblr

 

"I grew up watching a lot of the old civil rights videos and how they were treated, and I always thought, 'Wow, we've made a lot of progress.' But it was evident on Saturday that we really have not," Monica Reyes, a University of Northern Iowa senior and co-founder of DREAM Iowa, told The Huffington Post on Monday.

Reyes, who grew up in Iowa, said she heard people make comments that the Latino activists should "learn to speak English."

"One of our protesters -- her face was grabbed by a caucasian woman, and that caucasian woman told her to go back from where she came from," Reyes said. "One man actually said, 'If it ain't white, it ain't right.'"

According to a post on Tumblr from a woman who said she witnessed the protest, other people in the crowd shouted “Send the illegals back to where they came from!" "Excuse me immigrants," and "Is that English or is that stupidity?" toward a sign written in Spanish. Reyes said this description was accurate based on what she witnessed. 

The Students Against Bigotry protesters, Reyes noted, were from multiple backgrounds and ethnicities. She said she largely blames Trump's comments about immigrants for inspiring his supporters to behave this way. 

In a statement sent to HuffPost on Monday, Rubio, whose sign was attacked, said he had a message to women who harassed him at the protest:

"You can tear and deface my poster all you want because I will not stop using my voice and my right as a U.S. citizen to speak against hatred and bigotry. Go ahead and show your hatred and racism because that is all everyone else saw.  As an educated Latino leader on campus, I am involved in many student organizations such as Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. and SHPE MAES both organizations founded under the principles to unite the Latino Community, the same unity that was present at the protest. For my final words I would like to quote my Fraternity motto 'En La Union Esta La Fuerza,' ('In Unity there is strength')."

 Trump is currently polling in first place among GOP presidential contenders in Iowa and nationally.

"For us, it was really eye-opening to see this rhetoric," Reyes said. "I've never felt this much hatred from people in Iowa. That is not something our communities are going to stand with. We don't want to feel unsafe in our own communities, but that is kind of what [Trump's] rhetoric is instigating."

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Tyler Kingkade is a senior editor and reporter based in New York. You can contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com, or on Twitter: @tylerkingkade

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