About 150 protesters lined up across the street from attorney Tony Buzbee's River Oaks mansion Friday evening, sweating in the sweltering heat index—which topped 100 degrees—and watched as a cavalcade of Donald Trump's donors rolled down River Oaks Boulevard and into Buzbee's police-protected compound in their air-conditioned luxury cars to attend the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's campaign fundraising event.
If the heat bothered the protesters, they hardly showed it. For more than two hours, they chanted, held up handmade signs and played saxophones and drums behind a guardrail stretching two blocks down the boulevard. Across the street was Buzbee's home; across a crosswalk, about a dozen Trump supporters. In between the two camps and encircling the block were hundreds of police. In a marked difference from previous anti-Trump events throughout the country, there was little tension between protesters and Trump supporters, and a police spokesman told the Houston Chronicle that no arrests were made this evening.
Still, the protest was far from lighthearted. The anti-Trump crowd was diverse but largely Latino, and the community's anger at Trump's divisive, ethnocentric rhetoric and continued denigration of Hispanic and Hispanic-American people was literally palpable, in the form of a Trump/Diablo pinata.
"We are tired, the Mexican-American community," Victor Ibarra, a Latino rights activist from Latinos Inmigrantes Triunfadores, said in an interview. "I'm no criminal, I'm no rapist. Donald Trump keeps saying we are bad people. We are not."
Ibarra said the group was protesting Trump's hateful rhetoric towards Latinos. He rejected Trump's characterizations of people of Mexican descent, adding that he works hard for his family and has never been arrested.
"Every night, I wake up thinking—is someone going to hurt me?" Ibarra said. "I think of Donald Trump every day, just waiting for him to stop saying I'm a criminal.""It makes me very sad," Ibarra said of the fact that Trump is apparently the Republican party's choice for president. "It's not acceptable. The Republican party is going to have a big problem once he loses in November. He won't have any support from the Hispanic community. I think the Republican party supporting and giving money to him is not right."
Recent polling supports Ibarra's claim. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found that 89 percent of Hispanic respondents had a negative view of Trump.
The pro-Trump crowd predictably espoused a different viewpoint. They were mostly white, and a handful were wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, a reference to the brash businessman's campaign slogan. One man had a poster that said 'Mogul M.A.G.A.'
"It stands for Make America Great Again!" he explained. "Trump is going to make this country great."
Trump's fundraiser in River Oaks is the second-to-last event scheduled for his Texas trip. He held a rally in Dallas Thursday evening and had another fundraising event in San Antonio earlier Friday before coming to Houston. After the fundraiser here, he departed for The Woodlands, where a campaign rally will close out his Lone Star swing. He won't be missed by the protesters in River Oaks.
"We are here in this beautiful city in front of these beautiful homes to tell him it is us who built these streets, it is us who built these walls, and we are not going anywhere," one man from immigrants' rights organization FIEL said through a megaphone. "We are here... to tell Donald Trump that he is not welcome here."
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