By Tyler Pruett
MADISON, Ala— A group of U.S. military veterans was ejected from presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s recent campaign rally in Madison. Zach Choate, a spokesman for the veterans’ group, said that they were peacefully protesting hateful rhetoric in politics. Choate, an Iraq War veteran who served with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, along with a group of other veterans were holding two banners which read, “Mr. Trump, Veterans say end hate speech,” and “We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
The group unfurled their banners shortly after the rally began. “We were trying to bring awareness to what we feel is excessive, hateful rhetoric in politics right now,” a protester explained. “We were removed by the staff and booed by the crowd,” Choate said.
In the aftermath of recent altercations at campaign rallies, some which occurred in Alabama, the Trump campaign began requesting that supporters refrain from harming protesters, and instead chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” to drown out the opposition. While the group said they were not harmed, they did express a sense of irony in their treatment. “It’s kind of ironic that the speaker had just mentioned freedom of speech,” Choate said, “That says a lot for a veteran that’s been there and has some experience on the matter to be booed.”
Trump’s campaign drew a large crowd to the Madison area. Estimates from the media have ranged from 10,000 attendees to as much as 35,000. The football stadium filled quickly with supporters from all over the state. The real estate mogul received the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions at the rally. A majority of polls show Trump with a commanding lead in most of the Super Tuesday states as voters cast their ballots in 13 primaries across the nation.
Choate said his group of veterans will continue protesting throughout the nomination process. “To use veterans as a forefront for hate is unacceptable,” he said, “It goes against what America’s all about.” As we concluded our interview, campaign vendors selling t-shirts and other Trump memorabilia quickly relocated their tables to block Choate’s group from view of supporters.