Opponents of Donald Trump's political views and attendees of a Trump rally in Burlington, Vermont traded verbal barbs Thursday night, but there were no major problems arising from the event, according to the Burlington Police Department.
Trump spoke of his desire to build a wall on the southern border of the United States and to protect gun owners against what he sees as any infringements of their Constitutional rights to gun ownership from the Obama administration.
The event was held in the city where Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders served as mayor in the 1980s. Trump told the audience inside the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts that it would be a dream of his to face Sanders in the general election, because it would have meant a defeat of Hillary Clinton.
However, some polls have indicated Sanders may defeat Trump if the two were on the general election ballot.
"I hope that Mr. Trump learns something from his trip to Vermont," said Sanders supporter Ben Cohen, the cofounder of the premium ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's. "I hope he learns about our respect for social justice, for equality, and the way Vermonters care about the environment."
As the Trump rally went on in the Flynn, outside, protesters blasted Trump for his views on a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and on other policies.
"I think he has a right to be here and I respect that," said Sanders supporter Margaret Paul. "I'm just here to represent what a lot of Vermonters feel. That's that hate speech does not speak for us."
Before the event even started, the Trump campaign was kicking out ticketed attendees who would not affirm they are supporting the business mogul's campaign, according to accounts from several people inside the venue.
That list of people included Jess Kell of Burlington.
"I was surprised," Kell told necn. "I believe in free speech; this was an open, public space where people had a right to go and listen to what to what was being said."
Earlier, Trump backers explained why they were so willing to wait all day in the cold to see the man they call a strong leader.
"What's wrong with wanting America to be great again?" asked Republican voter Todd Harrington of Essex, Vermont. "What's wrong with wanting America to be safe?"
"I think he has the vision and the attitude to get it done and not just talk about getting it done," said Michael Eaton, a Trump supporter from Corinth, Vermont. "And he will get it done on a wide range of issues we've got to solve-- and solve quickly."
In the boisterous atmosphere that saw part of Main Street in Burlington closed during the event, comedian Antenna Wilde managed to find some humor.
Dressed up as Donald Trump, Wilde told necn he thought the rally was "yuge" and "great," mimicking two of Trump's favorite words.
"I may try to buy Burlington," Wilde said, imitating Trump. "It will look great in my backyard!"
The large presence of anti-Trump protesters gathered outside the Flynn, estimated by Burlington Police at around 1,000, should be an indication to Wilde's Trump character that Burlington is not for sale.
Deputy Burlington Police Chief Jan Wright told necn the event was a success from a public safety standpoint and that there were no significant problems that arose between rally attendees and protesters.