At least a dozen protesters at Donald Trump's March 11 rally in St. Louis have been detained in a single coordinated protest inside the Peabody Opera House.
The action managed to shut down the rally for close to ten minutes — to Trump's audible dismay. At one point, the chants of "USA" brought things to such a halt that Trump resorted to begging for police action.
The protest, a coordinated effort involving an estimated 40-50 activists, began with the coordinated drop of two large banners from the balcony of the Opera House. One said, "Caution, racism lives here" and the other said "Stop the hate."
The protest also included about 10-15 people on the lower level ripping off their shirts to reveal T-shirts they'd been wearing underneath with anti-Trump slogans. Others had signs denigrating the Republican presidential frontrunner, including ones comparing Trump to the KKK.
click to enlarge
Photo by Danny Wicentowski
The protesters stood in the aisles and linked arms before being pried apart by multiple police officers. The protesters went limp or were yanked to the ground as police used zip ties and handcuffs to detain them in the aisles.
As best we can tell, the cuffed protesters were then taken to a holding area somewhere inside the opera house. We also witnessed protesters being led down from the balcony area in zip ties.
Even before the large coordinated effort, there were at least a handful of smaller protests featuring one or two people. They, too, were led away by police.
The larger coordinated protest featured many people who had been active as protesters in Ferguson.
Photo by Danny Wicentowski
A fallen sign on the opera house floor.
Here's audio captured by the RFT's Daniel Hill, who's embedded inside the rally.
The candidate tells the audience, "These are not good people folks, just so you understand. These are not good people. And I heard this was going to happen, and they said, ‘Mr. Trump, would you like to cancel?’ I said, ‘absolutely not.’ These are not good people. These are not the people that made our country great, but we’re going to make it great again. But these are not good people. These are the people that are destroying our country. Get ‘em out. Get ‘em out. Come let’s go. Get em out."
He later adds, "Missouri, I can't believe this." And, "Honestly, can I be honest with you? It adds to the flavor. It makes it more exciting."
But Trump couldn't help but indulge in a little nostalgia for a simpler time of "consequences" for protesters.
"Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?" he says, killing time while demonstrators are removed. "And they're being politically correct the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer."
Here's some video from inside:
And here's a better angle:
It's not clear what the protesters' status is at this point, and whether arrests or citations are being issued.
"Nobody's being hurt, press, nobody's being hurt," you can hear Trump saying at another point in the audio.
At least one tweet from outside the rally, however, suggests otherwise.