Students at East Carolina University and City of Greenville officials have expressed concerns for actions taken during President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rally held at ECU’s Minges Coliseum one month ago from this past Saturday.
Junior Wilson Brown, president of the ECU College Democrats, said he believes the rally has left a negative impact on the university and the city. He said ECU and Greenville is now known for the “send her back” chant.
During Trump’s rally in Greenville, Trump denounced United States congresswoman originally from Somalia, Ilhan Omar, based on claims of disloyalty to the U.S.
Some crowd members at the rally chanted “send her back” after his remarks in a reference to sending congresswoman Omar back to Somalia. Trump additionally made comments about congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Brown said he is disappointed Greenville is now recognized for being the location of the “send her back” chants and wants people to know ECU and Greenville should be looked on in a positive light despite these actions.
“We’re now pretty much known as the send her back rally,” Brown said. “And Greenville and ECU is so much more than that.”
Brown said he is discouraged that a sitting president of the United States came to Greenville and did not behave differently, more productive actions during his rally.
Brown said he is disappointed Trump took the time to make comments about congresswomen who are immigrants and minorities due to the fact he does not agree with them. He said these actions have “left a dark shadow” on ECU and the city.
Members of the ECU College Democrats are tired of Trump’s “divisive” actions and have noticed a lack of effort to try to reach out to those he does not agree with, according to Brown.
Brown said he understands ECU had to allow Trump to rent out Minges Coliseum for the rally but he feels ECU could have addressed the negative actions which took place at the rally more directly.
“They (ECU) never really said these ‘send her back’ chants were disgusting and uncalled for,” Brown said. “The university could have stood up more and said this president came here and did some pretty gross things and we don’t support that.”
Brown said he hopes any future sitting presidents who visit Greenville approach the visit in an appropriate manner, unlike Trump who he said continually spreads hatred. He said he doubts any future presidents will act the way Trump does, but he believes “a president should act presidential” which should go unsaid. He said in Trump’s case this was not true.
ECU College Democrats Vice President junior Toryrose Harris and Brown attended the protests outside of the Trump rally, Brown said. He said they are grateful for everyone who attended the protest and showed support.
In an emailed statement to The East Carolinian, city of Greenville’s Public Information Officer, Brock Letchworth said the city is no longer discussing the “matter” of Trump’s rally.
PJ Connelly, Mayor of Greenville, who attended the rally, issued a statement on July 18 regarding the effects of the event.
“I am extremely disappointed and disheartened by the chant that took place at the President's rally last night. Greenville is more than just a city. It is our home,” Connelly said.
Connelly continued the statement by saying, “It (Greenville) is a diverse place - a place of compassion and acceptance. An inclusive place where everyone, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs, is welcome. A place where we band together to help others who are in need. Hate will never have a place in our community. The behavior that was on display last night is not reflective of the Greenville I know and love.”