May 5, 2016.
East Los Angeles, College – 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez Monterey Park, California 91754
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT HILLARY?
I’D SAY BAD-ENOUGH TO TAKE THE RISK OF GETTING MY NOSE SMASHED!
It’s barely 10am but I’m already up and ready to hit the road. As I packed a few water bottles and some snacks in the trunk of my rental car, I took a deep breath from the crisp, dry Irvine air. The weather is always fresh in Irvine and the temperature always perfect! Runners would love this kind of weather, I thought, as I saw a few people were running briskly across the street.
The unfamiliar car, unknown streets, crazy LA traffic made me nervous. Thinking of how bad is my sense of directions and how easily I get lost around my own town, I thanked God for the navigator!
Fifty-five minutes later, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself at the Monterey Park, CA, where the rally was scheduled. A long line had already been formed, I couldn’t see the end of it.
There were many police cars parked along the streets as I rushed through them. As soon as I reached the line, someone handed me a short form to fill out. On the top of the form it said: “Hillary can count on me, volunteering opportunities,” continued with a few questions about the volunteer’s name and address.
It was exciting to see Hillary Clinton. People came from all over California, some from other States, like me. Most people were talking and laughing while some already frustrated by the long line and the massive crowd.
It seemed like more than 500 people were ahead of me and even more behind me. I was told that there will be many of the Bernie Sanders’ supporters and warned me about the protesters but luckily I didn’t see any of them around.
Halfway through the line, there were a couple ladies, grilling hot dogs with a few people around them, waiting for their orders. The smell of the hotdog, grease, and the fries along with the smoke coming off the grill was nauseating. I was surprised they were even allowed to be there.
A woman holding a sign that says “No human being is illegal” walking alongside a man on a skateboard.
A young man with a blue shirt with ‘kittle brand’ written on it, offering free snacks to everyone. He had a cart-full of a variety of snacks. Everyone wanted one.
I’m looking at the beginning of the line and think it just doesn’t get any shorter!
Finally, an hour and half later, we got closer to the gymnasium. A half dozen of Hispanic men, wearing blue-green outfits, hats in hand, waiting for the event to start. These are the musicians, most of them holding musical instrument.
I took a picture of the musicians and sent it to the “HillaryClintonClub” that I’m a member of. We are about 1,300 members in this group and comment on each other’s posts, share thoughts, worries, news, and support each other.
I kept posting the event updates but unlike other times, I didn’t hear much from them. Only some “likes” and “thank you” messages. I was surprised then but later I found out that they knew something that I didn’t!
Around 4pm, I reached to the entrance of the gym. It looked small and already packed with hundreds of excited people, eager to see Hillary Clinton.
Waiting in line for the security check, the sweet smell of someone’s perfume, mixed with stale, sweaty, spoiled air brushed my face. It seemed a little hot and humid and I hoped for a better air system at the gym.
I was lucky to have had a chance to be allowed to enter the gym. There were hundreds of people behind me who couldn’t get in.
I squeezed myself through the sardine-style packed people and excused myself, pushed through them all the way to the left side of the room, a few steps away from the barricades. As I got there, I found myself in the middle of an argument. I felt the tension among a group of girls, exchanging some harsh words and pushing each other to the right and left. There were two women standing in front of me, one was a heavy set woman, seemed very angry and apparently was the center of the tension. The other was slim and tall, moving with the rhythm of the music front and back as she was stepping on my toes repeatedly and tapping on the floor with every beat of the drum.
From the beginning, I noticed these two women were texting, calling, and exchanging messages with a group of people standing behind us. They looked tense and worried but I didn’t think of much, because I was restless myself.
The time wouldn’t go fast enough for me, I kept checking the clock, anxiously waiting to see Hillary.
When the Latino band entered, everyone screamed and cheered. Some people knew the band and shouted their names, some even sang the lyrics along with them.
After the musicians were done, some speakers took the stage encouraging people to support Hillary Clinton. We clapped and agreed with the importance of voting for Hillary, we screamed “Hillary, Hillary,….” repeatedly.
The crowd’s enthusiasm got bigger and bigger as time went by. We kept asking each other, what time would she arrive.
Finally, the moment was here, HRC entered, wearing a light green jacket. The crowed burst with excitement and joy, screaming her name out “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, ….”
Her beautiful smile suddenly brightened the room, like a ray of golden sun in a beautiful Fall afternoon, touched us all, gave us a fuzzy warm feeling.
Her kind and gentle waving and greeting, her acknowledging the supporters across the room was unbelievable!
I was a few steps away from the stage, standing right by the barricades, listening to HRC so close, I could hear my heart beating like a drum, trying to skip out of my chest. It was the moment, our Hillary was here, my whole body had turned into ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ to look at her and to listen to her!
Suddenly, we were rudely interrupted by this boy, a few rows behind me, yelling: “liar, liar,” I turned around; he seemed like a fourteen-year-old boy with a nasty grin on his face, screaming while trying to hide his face behind the crowd.
I yelled at him: “stop it, what’s the matter with you?”
But he continued to shout. There was a tall guy standing next to that boy and looking straight ahead like nothing was bothering him. I told him “stop him, tell him to stop.”
The guy turned around and said something to the boy who stopped his rude shouting. I wondered if it was the boy’s father? I was disgusted with the thought of it. Are parents teaching children to disrespect HRC?
Calling her a liar? I’m so sick and tired of decades of endless accusations and lies made about Hillary. If you ask these people “what exactly she lied about?” they can’t say anything logical because they have heard it from others, repeatedly, and then they themselves have repeated it, believed in it, and used it against her.
What a pitiful world this is! I’m disgusted and nauseated with all this accusations. I’m sick and tired of those who try to taint Hillary’s name and portray her as a dishonest person. I pity you and feel sorry for you for trying to hurt and insult and disgrace a woman who has spent her entire life serving the country. I pity you and yes, I hate you for criticizing Hillary Clinton, blaming her for your own mistakes! May God punish you, liars, what you deserve!!
Halfway through the talk, I hear someone yelling:
“You killed Bertha, you killed Bertha….”
It took me a while to understand what this woman was saying. I was right behind her. Within seconds, I squeezed myself straight in front of her, my back to the barricades, held her arms and screamed at her: “stop it, stop it, stop it” but she went on and on without acknowledging me or without attempting to release her arms from my grip.
The news cameras and the reporters suddenly left HRC and focused their attention on her, not only one or two cameras but it seemed like all of them had rushed to take the protester in action. DIRTY MEDIA! Their sad and pathetic need for a pitiful news is what encourages people like these protesters to create a disruption in order to get on the news.
At that point, I didn’t care about the cameras or the situation I was getting myself into, all I wanted to do was to stop her. I was holding her arms, shaking her and asking her repeatedly to stop. And finally after screaming non-stop for several minutes, she did stop! She stopped yelling while I was still holding and squeezing her huge arms. She looked at me directly! Our faces only about 4 inches apart from each other. She didn’t try to get out of my grip. She didn’t have to. My arms went limb and fell on my sides.
She was a big woman, young and strong. She continued her gaze straight into my eyes. I had a creepy feeling of “o, sh.t!” This is it; she’s going to hit me on the face. My nose kind of ached, I had it broken twice already. I remembered last year in San Francisco, when I tried to see outside window, my hand slipped and I hit the window cell, flat, on my nose. The blood streaming out, I kept repeating, “I broke my nose,” and paced back and forth in my sister’s bedroom. My sister, Sori, who is a physician, jumped out of her bed, rubbing one eye, looking with the other, repeating, “no you didn’t,” and tried to fix it for me.
I felt the pain all over again. I was sandwiched between her and the barricades and had no way of getting out of her sight. I waited for a punch and prayed, not my nose, not my nose….
Ironically, she didn’t hit me, she didn’t do anything but just looked at me for a few very long seconds. Those seconds seemed awfully long and painful. I still remember her fuming eyes focusing directly into my eyes, watching me like a lion waiting for the right moment to tear me apart. And I felt a chill across my spine. It seemed like the world stopped around me. I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t even say anything, I felt like I was complete in her mercy.
A quick glance of my condition, I looked from the top of her shoulder, there was a cop standing but he was doing nothing! He had his eyes on both of us. What was he waiting for?
I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice, still talking, she gave me the courage, everything looked normal. I gasped for air, looked at the cop again and slightly pushed the woman with the tip of my fingers towards him. She turned around and without saying a word walked out with the cop.
As she left, I assumed everything would be fine but her friends were still here, they kept kicking me and pushing me with their shoulders, trying to get me out of there. I resisted the pressure and kept holding from the barricades.
I had never experienced anything like this before. I was greatly disturbed and saddened by this much hostility. For the remaining time, when Hillary was talking, I was praying not to let someone else interrupt.
It broke my heart to see her talk was interrupted so rudely and she was called a liar by a stupid 14-year-old boy. How could it be?
How would people allow themselves to be so callous and rude? If you’re not a supporter, don’t come to a Rally. Stay away, get the hell out of the gym and let us enjoy our time with the woman we love and admire.
Moments later, it seemed so short, Hillary Clinton was done. I was happy nothing else had happened. She came to the supporters, shook their hands, talked to them, smiled at them, listened to them, and took pictures with them.
When she got closer to me, my heart was beating so fast that I could hear my own heartbeat throughout my ears. In the past, I had been to more than a dozen of HRC’s rallies but I always stayed back and watched her from a distance.
Suddenly, like a dream, I saw her right in front of me, extending her hand. I held her hand while I was still shaking and distraught. She looked at me with her concerned clear, blue eyes, like ‘are you ok?’ I held both of her hands and screamed, “I love you.” People were screaming “Hillary, Hillary….” and stole her attention, she greeted them, thanked them, smiled at them while still holding my hands.
I thought my heart was melting away! Here was the woman I admired most of my life. In 2008 when she didn’t win, I cried for days and was depressed for weeks. I hated Obama to the point that I wouldn’t want to vote for him. At the GirlsInc. meeting, when Hillary Clinton asked us all to vote for Obama, I cried, it was the most difficult thing for me to do, to vote for someone who was not as deserving as HRC was. It was hard! But I did, Hillary wanted me to do so!
Tonight, I wanted to tell her how much I appreciated her hard work, her dedication, her tireless efforts to help people, but I couldn’t find any words. I just looked at her.
Moments later, she moved on to those next to me, talking, smiling, and taking their cameras to capture a selfie with them. Most of those around me were friends of the protestors. Here, she was getting close to those people, taking selfies, as I prayed for her safety.
The crowd was pushing everyone to the front line where I was standing, stressing on the barricades. I was trying hard to lean back in the opposite direction of the force, holding the barricade, pulling back, afraid it might fall off to the front and there was Hillary. She didn’t know what was going on as she was greeting them and taking selfies with them.
I screamed for help. One of the security guards looked at me, I said “they are pushing, they are pushing it on purpose, they’re trying to make the barricade fall,”
The guard shook her head and walked away.
I continued to hold the crowd back and screamed again, “they’re pushing, they’re pushing” when another guard was walking by. He came to my help and screamed at them:
DON’T PUSH, DON’T PUSH, STOP PUSHING!!
The force of pushing stopped and I finally relaxed.
Trying to find where Hillary was, I felt disoriented, there were black and white dots moving around me, a strange, continuous humming sound had filled my head, bursting into my ears… and there was a solid greet spot looking hazier and lighter by the minute…………………….
… I stood there and held on the barricades, there was one solid green spot that I couldn’t take my eyes off. It was going further and further, looking lighter less visible by the minute. I could picture her smile, shaking hands, taking pictures, selfies, and waving all from behind a curtain of fog and haze….as she was getting away from us, until she was gone, all I could see was a wall of brown bricks, and the moving black and white dots surrounding me with a flood of unknown black and white dots,
The noise continued to hammer in my ears; I kept holding from the barricades, the dots were getting thinner and thinner until they disappeared. I looked around; I was the only one standing next to the barricades. Almost everyone else was gone. The place looked empty. There was someone dancing on the floor with the Latino singers who were playing music, the camera crew still in the middle of the room, folding and untying the cords and packing their equipment.
I went all the way to top the bleachers and just sat there. a flood of tears suddenly streamed from my eyes and poured on my cheeks, burning my cheeks like I had a fever of a thousand degrees. I let cry, I let the tears roll down my cheeks and burn my face.
Some people were folding the chairs, some putting away their equipment, some laughing, talking, dancing.
The sounds of hammering machines in my head had suddenly replaced by a strangely deep silence, mixed with a feeling of deafness, like I was under the water, or perhaps I had lost my hearing.
I stayed there motionless with tears running nonstop. Suddenly I saw someone waving at me, trying to get my attention. I had to focus hard to understand what he was saying: “ma’am we are closing.”
I came back to myself and realized everyone was gone,
Outside, it was another world; I saw dozens of cops on horses, police cars, cops walking around, checking people and looking around. Something had happened while I was inside, sitting on the bleachers.
The streets were packed with people, some were just standing and talking, others were walking around but most of them were carrying signs of “Bernie Sanders.”
I picked up bits and pieces of their conversation and gathered that Bernie people had done a number of things, they had harassed Hillary supporters, shaming them for supporting her, spitting on them, yelling at the children, ……. and there were rumors that some of these people were actually hired to protest and to disrupt Hillary’s rally. As usual, he had played a dirty game with the democratic party!
To Bernie, Donald, and their supporters: why so mean? What has Clinton done to you to deserve this?
Since a year ago when I joined the “HillaryClintonClub,” I have heard it repeatedly that, Hillary says:
“you should not lower your class,”
“stay above them,”
“keep the bar high,”
“you are Americans and must keep your high standards,”
“Hillary doesn’t like you to protest,”
……….but it’s hard and it leaves me powerless! Sometimes I want to scream at them and call them whatever they call us, but then I remember that I’m representing Hillary Clinton. I must act like one she’d be proud of!
………and it’s very hard keep the high standard with those who have NO standards at all.
I had my Hillary signs in English and in Spanish that I had picked up from the gym and pressed them on my chest. At that time, she was the only one I knew, all around me were Bernie’s people, angry and mad, looking for trouble. They were so young, I wondered if they were anything more than 18 years old.
I pressed the signs tighter against my chest and walked fast to get out of there.
As soon as I got far enough from the crowd, I sat under a huge tree, watched the cops and thanked one of them who was staring at me.
– “thank you for protecting our Hillary,” I said.
He smiled with joy:
– “you bet!”
An older man, on his late 70s, carrying a few water bottles, wearing a “Hillary, I’m With You” shirt smiled at me when he saw my Hillary signs. I automatically went to him and asked if I could hug him.
He gave me a big smile, showing a missing tooth, and opened his arms. I hugged him and thanked him for supporting Hillary. He whispered, “she’s our girl.”
An hour later, in East LA, where everyone had warned me to stay away from for being the most unsafe place in LA, I was still sitting under a tree, watching the event coming to an end. The event that probably has become one of the most unforgettable events in my entire life.
ARE YOU WITH ME?
I hear the voice. I try to scream, I am with you, I am …
but I can’t say a word. I FOLLOW. the road is bumpy. it’s harsh and unpleasant.. I fall down. I get up. I fall again. I get up again, injured and in pain. tears burning my cheeks. … pain piercing my heart…
SHE KEEPS GOING, strong and certain, making sure I follow her.. making sure I’m ok… and I wonder HOW DOES SHE DO THIS? how does she put up with this much cruelty and harshness? I’m falling apart ….. I want to cry…
She turns around, there’s a deep sadness on her face, disappointment, frustration…. but her voice is strong….
Smiles at me, focusing on me with those clear blue eyes: you ok????????
The two women who shaped my life: my mother and Hillary Clinton
May 5, 2016
I looked at the address again, East Los Angeles, College – 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, California, and felt nervous all over again.
It is barely 10:00 o’clock in the morning but I was already on my way to the rally. As I packed a bottle of water and snacks in the trunk of my rental car, I took a deep breath from the crisp, fresh Irvine air. It was a perfect day for a rally with Hillary, I thought, and felt anxious, fluttering feeling of butterflies in my stomach.
A combination of the unknown streets and the busy LA traffic had me worried for days but the navigator was my only hope.
To my surprise, an hour later, I found myself at the Monterey Park, where the rally was scheduled. This was a part of Hillary Clinton’s sweep through California before the Primary.
A long line had formed already. I could not see the end of of it but there were hundreds of people. It was hot, some people were fanning their faces with the flyers.
Dozens of police cars were parked along the streets as I rushed through them and walked past people who were standing on a long sidewalk that had starched and wrapped around the block. I finally reached to the end of the line and approached by someone who handed me a short form to fill out. On the top of the form, it said, “Hillary can count on me, volunteering opportunities,” continued with a few questions about the volunteer’s name and address, etc.
We were extremely exciting to see Hillary Clinton. Nothing could compare to the enthusiasm and eagerness of the Clinton supporters who had come from all over California, some from other States, like me.
A sense of unity, love, and togetherness had literally glued us all together. Everyone seemed happy and felt as we had known each other forever.
Some of us were more anxious than the others; some were talking and laughing while the others were quietly looking at the massive crowd of more than a thousand people ahead of us and even more behind us. The line continued to grow longer throughout the afternoon.
My friends from the “Hillary Clinton Club,” a closed Facebook group, had warned me that there might be many of the Bernie Sanders’ people protesting the rally. They told me according to a Facebook posting invitation to protest Hillary Clinton’s rally, hundreds had RSVP’d to attend.
The lady standing next to me confirmed this and added, “It looks peaceful at the moment but I think hundreds of protesters would gather here at some point,” and added “but we will survive this insanity, it’s just absurd, just outrageous.”
Halfway through the line, there were two women grilling hot dogs with a few people around them, waiting for their orders. The smell of the hot dog grease along with the smoke coming off the grill constantly brushed our faces but it certainly added to the joy of many who were hungry.
Along the street, there were some protesters holding signs in support of Sanders and Trump as well as a woman holding a sign that said, “No human being is illegal,” walking alongside a man on the skateboard, voicing against Trump and his signature issue, illegal immigration policies.
A young man with a blue shirt with ‘Kettle brand’ written on it, was offering free snacks to everyone. He had a cart-full of a variety of snacks that everyone wanted to take one.
An older man standing next to me in the line, smiled at me, shaking his head, started talking about Hillary Clinton. His silver gray hair reminded me of Mom’s thick, healthy, beautiful hair that had a perfect tone of silver. Thinking of mamma brought tears to my eyes.
“Hillary Clinton is fighting hard for us,” clearing his throat, continued,
“she’s running two campaigns, you know, one against an independent on our own Democratic ticket and the other against a Republican, neither one of them respect women.”
I agreed with him, “You’re absolutely right,” I said.
Those around us listened as he continued to talk with an anguish and grief in his voice which we all relate to,
“It is always frustrating for us, Hillary supporters, to see her difficult position, fighting against two men who are evil and who are brutally attacking her from all angles.”
We all agreed as he continued,
“Trying to taint her reputation with the help of the media and GOP, spreading the false, fake, disgusting lies nonstop, day and night.”
A woman with a large bottle of water in hand joined our conversation with her husky voice,
“She’s the only qualified candidate, the guys are losers, one is not even Democrat and the other is a madman from some showbiz,” clearing her throat, continued,
“Bernie is making trouble, he’s only helping the republicans.”
The older man raised his voice,
“Absolutely, and what’s he waiting for? Remember when Obama won the primary, it was hard but Hillary gave a nice endorsement speech and let it go because she cared about the country.”
She looked angry and irritated talking about all the negative campaign ads and the dirty choices of words that these two men were using to insult Hillary Clinton. We agreed with her and felt the pain deep down our hearts. It wasn’t an insult to Clinton alone, it was an insult to all of us!
It was shocking to see that the level of sexism and misogyny was so disturbingly high in this country. We were hurting with every attack on Hillary Clinton and were desperately seeking for ways to stop them. But we couldn’t. The power of the harmful, negative, fake, phony words spreading through the social media was much stronger than the power of the truth. Before we fight and bring up the Fact check to prove one lie wrong, there were ten more lies out there already spreading and brainwashing millions.
Our hearts were aching for our precious Hillary…..
Looking at Hillary Clinton’s courage and resilience, every time after a series of crying and complaining within the closed Facebook groups, we were trying to pick each other up and keep going.
We knew that we had been glued together by a powerful Hillary-bond that was built on a solid foundation of love, acceptance, and unity.
… and so, we were not alone!
There were millions of us, stronger together, but still, thinking about Hillary Clinton made our hearts go tender.
I looked at the beginning of the line and felt restless. I could hardly wait to see her and to thank her a thousand times for what she does for this country and what she has done for us for over four decades.
As we got closer to the gymnasium, we were pleasantly surprised to see a half dozen Latino musicians, wearing blue-green outfits, hats in hands, getting ready to start the big event.
I took a picture of the band and posted that on the closed face book account, the “Hillary Clinton Club” as we always share comments and thoughts with the group. I posted another picture, and I kept posting the event updates but it looked different, unlike other times, I did not hear back from them until later that day, when they told me how they were worried about the protesters and were aware of the hundreds of confirmed RSVP to a message on the Facebook.
Finally, we reached to the entrance of the gymnasium. It was already packed with hundreds and thousands of excited Clinton supporters. The place was full, someone was yelling the remaining people will have to wait outside for Hillary Clinton to see them after the rally because there is no room for anyone else inside the gym.
I felt terrible for hundreds of people who were behind me but very thankful for my own luck to be one of those inside the gymnasium.
Once inside, we passed through an airport-like security check before entering the gymnasium. A sweet smell of someone’s perfume, mixed with stale, sweaty, spoiled air, brushed my face. It was hot and humid at the gym.
I squeezed myself through the sardine-style crammed people and excused myself, pushed through them all the way to the left side of the room, a few steps away from the barricades.
As soon as I got there, I found myself in the middle of an argument. I felt the tension among a group of young women, exchanging some harsh words and pushing each other to the right and left.
There were two women standing in front of me, one of them, a heavyset, angry woman, and apparently the center of the tension. The other one slim and tall, moving with the rhythm of the music front and back, stepping on my toes repeatedly and tapping on the floor with every beat of the drum.
From the moment I got there, I noticed that these two women were texting, calling someone on the phone, and exchanging messages with a group of people standing behind us.
They looked tense and worried as they tried to avoid eye contact with me. I was restless to see Hillary Clinton and did not think much about their strange behaviors.
The time would not go fast enough for me; I kept checking the clock, anxiously waiting to see Hillary Clinton. When the Latin band entered, everyone screamed and cheered. Some people knew the band members and shouted their names out loud; many sang the lyrics along with them.
After the musicians left the stage, a few speakers took the stage encouraging people to support Hillary Clinton because of her policies, her experience, and her qualifications. We clapped and agreed with the importance of voting for Hillary Clinton, we chanted “Hillary, Hillary,” over, and over, and over, seeming like we couldn’t get enough of chanting her name.
The crowd’s enthusiasm got bigger and bigger as the time went by. We kept asking each other, what time would she arrive and what time do you have?
She was a little late but it was well worth the wait. Hillary was coming!
Finally, the moment was here, HRC entered the room, wearing a light green jacket, looking incredibly beautiful. The crowed burst with excitement and joy, screaming her name out “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary…”
Her beautiful smile had suddenly brightened the room, like a ray of golden sun in a beautiful fall afternoon, it touched us all and gave us a fuzzy warm feeling. Her kind and gentle waving and greeting, her way of acknowledging the supporters across the room was unbelievable! I was a few steps away from the stage, standing right by the barricades, behind the two women, listening to her so close. It felt surreal, so magical and mystic, like a dream….a strong wave of joy and enthusiasm had filled the air in the gymnasium.
Suddenly, this boy from a few rows behind me, interrupted us rudely, yelling “liar, liar,” while Hillary Clinton continued to talk and ignored him. I saw a teenage boy with a nasty grin on his face, screaming while trying to hide his face behind the crowd.
I yelled at him, “STOP IT, what’s the matter with you?” as he continued to shout.
There was a tall man standing next to the boy who was looking straight ahead like nothing was bothering him. I told him, “stop him, tell him to stop, what the heck is wrong with him?” The man leaned over the boy, said something to him and stopped him from shouting. Just like that. A 16 year old boy, calling liar and insulting a woman who has spent her entire life serving this country. I wondered if it was the boy’s father and was disgusted with the thought of it.
Ask these people, “What exactly did she lie about?” None of them could tell anything to make sense, they do not know what to say because they have only heard the sick accusations from the others, the republicans and the critics who are weak and coward and have tried to taint Hillary Clinton’s reputation for decades.
A few minutes later, I hear someone yelling, “You killed Bertha, you killed Bertha….”
It was the heavy-set woman who was standing right in front me, the one who was fighting with some young girls earlier today. Hillary Clinton turned around, we were at left side of the stage, just a few steps away from her, looked at her, and offered to talk to her, saying, “let me explain to you, let me explain it to you…” but the protester’s ranting wouldn’t stop to give her a chance to explain.
It took me a while to understand what this woman was saying. I was standing next to her but within seconds, I saw myself straight in front of her, my back supported by the barricades. I held her arms and screamed at her, “STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT” but she went on without listening to me or without allowing HRC to talk to her. She tried to release her arms from my grip but I was holding tight from her two arms, shaking her to stop.
All the news cameras and the reporters suddenly left HRC and focused their attention on the protester, while she is screaming “you killed Bertha,” and I’m wrestling with her to stop her, squeezing her arms, pulling them down. She was fighting me like a wild animal.
At that point, I did not care about the cameras or the situation that I had gotten myself into, all I wanted was to stop her as I was holding her arms, shaking her and asking her repeatedly to stop.
Finally, she did stop!
She stopped yelling while I was still holding and clutching at both of her arms. She looked at me directly! Our faces were about 3 inches apart from each other. I felt the heat of the flames gushing out of her eyes as she was breathing heavily on my face. Surprisingly, she did not try to release her arms out of my grip but she did not have to do that, anyway. My grip had softened and my hands had literally gone numb as they fell on my sides….and I couldn’t move. She was pressing my body against the barricades with her upper body and legs. I tried to stay calm and hoped for a miracle to happen and take me away from her.
She was a big woman, young and strong, where I was 128 pounds, older, and sandwiched between her and the barricades!
I tried to move out of her sight but I could not move at all as she continued to press me against the barricades and looking straight into my eyes. It was such a creepy feeling, I couldn’t even scream. Had I lost my voice? All I could think of was that she is going to hit me on the face. My nose started aching and it felt tender. I had broken my nose twice already. I remembered last year in San Francisco, when I tried to lean forward and see outside the window, my hand slipped down and I hit the window cell, flat, crushing my nose. Today, I felt the pain all over again. I was sandwiched between her and the barricades and had no way of getting out of her sight. I waited for a punch and prayed, not my nose….
To my surprise, she did not hit me; she did not even say a word, she kept looking at me for a few minutes with her fuming eyes focused directly into mine. I felt a chill clear down to my spine.
During those moments, I could not hear or see anything around me. All I saw was her and me and felt trapped. In a total desperation, I took a quick glance, looked from the top of her shoulder, and saw a security guard or someone in a uniform, who was just standing behind her but doing nothing! He had his eyes on both of us, standing still. It was the strangest thing, ever! Is that for real? What was he waiting for?
I looked to the guard again and felt a little daring, slightly pushed the woman with the tip of my fingers towards him. She turned around, without saying a word walked out with that guy.
As she left, I assumed everything would be fine but her friends were still around me. They kept kicking me at my legs and pushing me with their shoulders, trying to force me out of there. I resisted the pressure and kept holding from the barricades. I had never experienced anything like this before.
Why such disturbance and hostility? How did they all get inside the gym?
Too many had come through the public Facebook message that had been sent out to hundreds of Bernie and Trump supporter. I believe that more than 600 had RSVP’d the event to protest. The protesters did not even have a permit to protest.
I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice, as she is talking, all the supporters are chanting her name over and over and over as they are trying to outweigh the demonstrators’ shameful shouting of “Hey Ho, Hillary has got to go.”
For the remaining time, when Hillary was talking, I was praying not to let someone else interrupt. I was still shaking; my heart was pounding heavily inside my chest.
Unfortunately, once again, Hillary Clinton was interrupted as the protesters pulled out the hidden banners displaying angry, disgusting words. Ironically, Hillary carried on her normal tone the entire time and did not let anyone interrupt her talk.
“I am 3 million-plus votes ahead of Senator Sanders, right?” Clinton told the crowd. We all screamed “Right,” and clapped as she continued, “I am nearly 300 pledged delegates ahead of Senator Sanders.”
Sadly, she had to make it short, very short, 14 minutes!
How could it be? How would people allow themselves to be so vicious and evil?
We were furious at the protesters and asking each other, why, why?
Hillary Clinton’s speech was over! So short, in just 14 minutes, the speech was over because of the constant interruptions.
In a way, I was relieved. I was afraid of a fight break up between the protesters and the Hillary Clinton supporters.
I was hoping that Hillary Clinton would not allow selfies and handshakes but to my surprise, she didn’t cancel that.
I was worried of the handshakes and the selfies because most of the protesters were holding spots close to the barricades, as Clinton was shaking hands, smiling, and listening to people, I was holding my breath and was praying.
Suddenly, like a dream, I saw her right in front of me, extending her hand, smiling at me. I grabbed her hand while I was still shaking and distraught. She looked at me with her concerned clear, blue eyes, like “you ok?”
I dropped on her hands and kissed both her hands and cried out, “I love you.”
People were screaming her name from everywhere, “Hillary, Hillary.” She was greeting them with smiles and thanking them, while I was still holding her hands and wouldn’t let go.
While the Clinton’s secret service told everyone else “don’t touch, no touch,” they were always kind to me, allowing me to place my hand on her shoulder. Those are the selfies that I treasure, noticing that the tip of my fingers barely touching her shoulder, like she was so precious, so sacred, so delicate and magical that I was afraid if I press harder, I may lose her.
I wasn’t surprised her secret service allowed me to hold onto her hands but I was surprised how HRC was holding my hands back, pressing firm, sincere, and genuine giving me a world of love and appreciation to live by for the remaining years of my life. That’s exactly how Hillary Clinton is with all her supporters. She makes them feel special and she shares the love and kindness with each and every one of us. That’s why we love her, that’s why the Hillary-bond is so potent and unbreakable!
My heart was melting away!
I have admired Hillary Clinton most of my life for who she is, what she does, and how she stands up against a completely unfair world! People do not give her the credit that she deserves.
I wanted to tell her how much I appreciated her hard work, her dedication, her tireless efforts to her helping people, but I could not find any words.
Moments later, she moved on to those next to me, talking, smiling, and taking their phones to take a selfies with them. Most of those around me were friends of the protestors. Here, she was getting close to those people, talking to them, greeting them and taking pictures with them, as I prayed for her safety.
The crowd was pushing everyone to the front line where I was standing. I was holding tight to the barricades, trying to lean back in the opposite direction of the force, pulling back, fearing it might fall off to the front… and there was Hillary. She did not know what was going on as she was greeting them as usual. I screamed for help. One of the security guards looked at me as I screamed for help, saying, “They are pushing, they are pushing on purpose trying to make the barricades fall over,”
The guard shook her head and walked away. I continued to try hold the crowd back and screamed again, “They’re pushing, they’re pushing” when another guard was walking by. He came to my help and screamed at them:
“DON’T PUSH, DON’T PUSH, STOP PUSHING!!”
The force of pushing stopped and I finally relaxed. Trying to find where was Hillary, I felt disoriented, there were black and white dots moving around me, a strange, continuous humming sound had filled my head, bursting into my ears… and there was a solid greet spot looking hazier and lighter by the minute………….
I stood there and held on to the barricades and kept my eyes on that one solid green spot as it was going farther and farther, looking lighter and less visible by the seconds. I could still picture Clinton’s smiles, her shaking hands, taking selfies, and waving but my eyes were covered by a curtain of fog and haze….
Moments later, all I could see was a wall of brown bricks.
I was furious. What had just happened?
At some point, I looked around; I was the only one standing next to the barricades. Almost everyone else was gone. The place was empty. There were some people dancing on the floor with the Latino singers, someone was playing a guitar, the camera crew were still in the middle of the room, folding and untying the cords, packing their equipment.
I went all the way to top the bleachers and just sat there. A flood of tears suddenly streamed from my eyes and poured on my cheeks, burning my cheeks like I had a fever of a thousand degrees. I let cry, I let the tears roll down my cheeks and burn my face.
Outside, it was another world; I saw dozens of cops on horses, police cars, cops walking around, checking people and looking around. Something had happened while I was sitting on the bleachers. The streets were packed with people, some were just standing and talking, others were walking around, carrying signs of Bernie Sanders and Trump’s MAGA signs. I picked up bits and pieces of their conversation and gathered that Trump and Bernie Sanders’ supporters had done a number of things, they had harassed Hillary supporters, shaming them for supporting her, spitting on them, yelling at the children, tearing their signed Hillary signs, and making them cry.
Trump and Sanders were responsible for this dirty, nasty, shameful protest!
What has Clinton done to deserve this?
Hillary Clinton always reminds us, repeatedly, telling us” “You should not lower the American standard,” “Don’t lower the bar,” she repeated, as we were clearly told not to protest, by Hillary Clinton’s close friends, telling us, “Hillary doesn’t like you to protest,” and so we didn’t…..
It was hard for us to witness such brutality from both Sanders and Trump and not to be able to stop them. We felt hurt and powerless and wanted to scream and yell to stop them!
I had my “Hillary I’m With You” signs in English and in Spanish that I had picked up from the gym and pressed them against my chest. Around me were Trump and Sanders’ supporters, happy and pleased for the trouble they had caused. Some of them looked so young, I wondered if they were even 16 years old. I held the signs tighter and walked fast to get out of there. As soon as I got far enough from the crowd, I sat under a huge tree, watched the cops and thanked one of them who was staring at me, “Thank you for protecting our Hillary,” I said.
He smiled with joy, “You bet,” and lowered his head with respect.
An older man, on his late 70s, carrying a few bottles of water, wearing a “Hillary, I’m With You” shirt smiled at me when he saw my Hillary signs. I automatically went to him and asked if I could hug him. He gave me a big smile, showing a missing tooth, and opened his arms. I hugged him, “Thank you for supporting Hillary,” as I felt the tears running on my cheeks again, he whispered, “She’s our girl.”
An hour later, in East LA, where many had warned me to stay away from, I was still sitting under a tree, watching the event coming to an end. The event that probably has become one of the most unforgettable, the most painful events in my entire life.
As soon as I got into my car, I called Simeen, a good friend of mine living in Irvine, CA, and before I say anything, she said, “Hey, delbaar, (sweetie), I was waiting for your call, how are you?”
I said hello with a voice that I could hardly hear myself. She asked again, “Are you ok?”
I tried to compose myself and find the right words to say without making her worry, instead, I blurted out, “No, not really, I need to see you,” I said.
She was baffled, “what happened, you didn’t see Hillary?”
“I did see her, but so much more has happened, I want to see you, OK?” and agreed to meet me at a Persian restaurant where we usually eat during my CA trips.
The traffic was heavy but I didn’t seem to be bothered. I was experiencing a strange feeling of lightheaded and dizziness. It felt like I was sitting somewhere high, watching everything from the above. As the cars were passing by me, I drove slowly, trying to listen to the GPS driving instructions but my eyes were blurry and I couldn’t see the signs well.
Not sure how long it took me to get to Irvine, but as soon as I reached the restaurant, I found Simeen waiting for me outside the lobby. Her beautiful, infectious smile had brightened her face. The wind was playing with her shoulder-length hair, as she was brushing the hair off of her Sunkist brown skin, she kept smiling but she was looking at me with a deep concern.
We kissed on the cheeks and hugged. I held onto her for a minute. She let me cry on her shoulder without asking any questions.…
Minutes later, as she was holding my left arm like she was afraid of losing me, we entered the restaurant and picked a seat and sat down. I didn’t know where to start but I wanted to be brief, sharing only bits and pieces of the event:
“I had an experience that I will never forget,” I said.
She nodded her head and said nothing while looking deep into my eyes, waiting to hear more. I went on, telling her,
“The rally started fine, hundreds of people attended. The typical Hillary Clinton crowd, young and old, women, children, middle class, LGBT group, immigrants, Whites, African Americans, Latinos, especially Latinos, hundreds of them.
I did not know at first but soon I found out that there were hundreds of protesters inside the gymnasium, all over the place, grouped in a very organized clusters, keeping in touch with each other with texting and phone calls. They tried hard to disrupt Hillary’s speech. They interrupted repeatedly; some of them were holding very, very rude signs, displaying inappropriate, horrible words written on them. It was unbelievably offensive and sickening.
Witnessing all this cruelty and viciousness broke my heart. How could they allow themselves to be such? Clinton’s talk was cut short, only 14 minutes, her supporters had the right to hear her, doesn’t Bernie and trump feel responsible for their supporters’ viciousness? They have grown a group of fanatics who could terrorize and intimidate hundreds and thousands of people who only wish to be with their leader!
Tonight, it was really, really difficult witnessing that horrific experience. Their level of violence was higher than anything you can imagine.
Outside the gym, as I heard later, hundreds of protesters had gathered in front of the gymnasium. After the rally, I felt like I was hit by a truck, I felt beat and broken. It was as if I had a Vertigo, everything around me was moving and spinning. I felt sick so I just sat on the bleachers for a very long time but other supporters left the gymnasium, everyone had to go through the narrow walkway where the protesters had lined up on one side, carrying hateful flags and Trump and sanders’ signs and shouting ‘shame on you for supporting Hillary’
They were cursing and waving their hateful signs, shoving them into people’s faces, scaring the little kids and even tearing little kids’ signed-by-Hillary posters, making them cry.
When I left the gym, I saw dozens of police with horses and with riot gears everywhere. They said it took them by surprise, they were not ready for such a big crowd of protesters and the riot.
We were both sniffing quietly, tears rolling down our cheeks, as Simeen was completely shocked and shaking. She was looking straight at me without blinking, resting her elbows on the table, rubbing her hands together.
I took a deep breath and stopped talking. Siemeen pulled her arms off the table, still looking at me intensely; scratching her forehead with painted fingernails, saying, “How could they do that to Hillary? It’s HILLARY, how could they be so vicious and so violent to her?”
The waiter brought us a plate of Persian flat bread and slices of sweet onions and radishes, topped with fresh mint and basil leaves. Fresh herb and raw vegetable is an Iranian appetizer or more like a side dish.
we both picked a piece of the freshly made flat bread and wrapped it around the raw onion and basil leaves but none of us took a bite as we were both deeply disturbed and were looking into each other’s eyes, searching for an answer.
Simeen was overwhelmed by the brutality and viciousness of the protesters, “and Bernie is about a revolution, right? Which part of this riot and stupidity is revolution?”
“Trump is a vicious man, he enjoys this; he’s the one encouraging them into such a violent behavior. He doesn’t even ask his supporters to be civil, no, civility is not their cup of tea.”
“Why do they do this?” she said, adding, “I haven’t been to Hillary’s rallies, can’t leave Mom alone but you go all the time, would you guys do anything close to this to Bernie’s rallies?”
I said, “No, Hillary doesn’t allow us, I wanted to gather supporters and protest in one of Sanders’ rallies in New York but I was seriously warned not to make this mistake because Hillary doesn’t like it,”
“She’s a leader, so proud of her,” Simeen said it with a tremendous amount of admiration in her voice, adding, “She has raised the bar high, and people expect her and her supporters to keep the standard high.”
As we were talking about Hillary Clinton asking us to keep the bar high, I suddenly remembered my struggle with the protester at the gym and moaned, “Oh, God,” and held my head in the palms of my hands, grousing, “I hope I didn’t make Hillary mad,”
Simeen raised her shoulders with a surprise, moving her hands upward, questioning me, “what? What did you do? What do you mean?”
I shared the highlights of my struggle with the protester. Simeen listened quietly with her jaw dropping and her eyes glistening with tears, getting bigger and wider with every word that I said. Halfway through the story, I stopped talking; it seemed like it was too much for her to picture me fighting that woman.
She took a deep breath, sat back straight on her chair and sighed, “She could have hurt you, she could have had something on her to seriously hurt you,” she talked like a mother talking to her badly-behaved child.
I said, “They checked everyone at the security checkpoints, she couldn’t have anything sharp on her”
She pretended as if she did not even hear me, taking her gaze away from me, wrapping and un-wrapping a slice of onion in a piece of bread. A deep anxiety and fear shadowed her face, as the vertical lines between her eyebrows got deeper.
Finally, she looked at me with disbelieves and talked to me with an oddly strange, low voice, “you never fought anyone in life, what is happening to you?”
There was a layer of tears, covering her big, brown eyes as she was blinking fast to hold them back.
I felt bad causing Simeen this much stress and I wondered about myself, “What IS happening to me?” I hear that question a lot, lately! But I’m not the only one who feels like this. There are many of us in the Hillary Clinton Club who are fed up with the viciousness of these two men and can’t take it anymore!
We noticed that our food was already on the table, rice and chicken kabob for me, a combo platter for Simeen. Without asking me, she split half of her beef kabob and placed it on my plate.
None of us talked for a long time. Our minds were heavily busy processing the violence at Hillary’s rally today. The news and events happening around the campaign had already put Hillary Clinton and her supporters under tremendous amount of pressure. We especially felt the pressure from Trump on one side, Bernie on the other, the fake news and the shameless tabloid gossips had definitely taken a toll on us.
The waiter came to check if we needed anything but realized we were just playing with our foods. He left with no words and came back with a steamy, hot teapot filled with a spiced, cardamom, green tea and a plate full of Iranian sweets, Barfi, smiling at us, “it’s on the house,” and lowered his head with respect, took a step back and left. Simeen and I, both, looked at each other, surprised with his kind gesture, we almost cried as a stranger’s kindness and love had deeply touched our hearts.
We drank the tea in silence and enjoyed the sweets, feeling better like we had a perfect medicine for our saddened hearts.
The restaurant was getting busier as it was getting dark outside. We felt exhausted, tired, and drained out of energy and decided to leave. Simeen held my hand and came close to my face, whispering, “I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you today, I feel terribly guilty for not being there for you, I’m sorry, I couldn’t leave Mom alone.”
She sat back, shaking her head, still apologizing, “I should have been there with you.”
I know how difficult it is for her to work, to take care of her mother and to still be a mom to her daughter. I didn’t want her to feel bad for not going to the rally with me today but before I say anything, she continued, “For the remaining of your time, I’m here for you, tell me what to do,” and continued, “You’re not alone, ok? I will canvas with you, I will go to the Orange Headquarter with you, and I will help you as long as you need me. We have to get Hillary Clinton into the White House.”
I always knew that I could count on her. Simeen is a sensitive, kind and caring woman with a heart that is open to everyone. I met her in Texas about 30 years ago when we were both visiting a mutual friend. From that time on, we became friends. During the years, things changed a lot, she got married, she had a kid, she became her Mom’s caregiver but one thing never changed, I could always count on her and she’ll always be there for me!
Before we leave the restaurant, we planned to start our campaign work the next day. She said,“Meet you first thing in the morning,” we hugged,kissed on the cheeks,and said almost at the same time,“we campaign for Hillary in an Afghan-Style,” and we both laughed for the first time in hours.
On the way to the hotel, my phone rang. It’s Hilla, my little niece,
“Hi, Nash, I really miss you, when are you coming?”
Her voice, more like a melody, shimmering my heart,
“My Hilla, my little Hilla, I miss you so much,” and I’m just about to cry.
I had a long day, I’m trying to do anything to get my mind off of what happened today but I can’t.
I’m heartbroken. I’m angry. I’m sad. And I’m devastated thinking of Hillary Clinton, wondering how she feels…
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