Milwaukee GOP Debate protestors

GOP Debate: Protesters condemn party positions on key issues

By Satvika Khera and Raquel Zaldivar

MILWAUKEE — Protesters descended on the Milwaukee Theatre on Nov. 10 as candidates prepared to take the stage for the fourth Republican presidential debate this year. They rallied against the GOP candidates’ stance on a range of issues including immigration, minimum wage and foreign aid.

Andrea Valerio from Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), an organization that supports immigrants’, students’ and workers’ rights, took to the microphone to voice the organization’s grievances.

“We condemn the deportations of millions of people, as [the deportations] only serve to separate families. We condemn and oppress the hateful fascist and racist comments made by Trump and exemplified by the GOP’s rhetoric,” Valerio said. “We are not going to stay quiet while Trump attacks our people.”

ABOVE: Video highlights of the protest at the GOP debate.

Many of the protesters’ complaints were fueled by Republican candidate Donald Trump’s recent comments on illegal immigration and the United States’ stance on Palestine.

Evan Elkins, a member of Students for a Democratic Society, said that he’s not expecting too much from the GOP candidates, but he hopes that Americans can make informed decisions at the polls.

“I hope that the United States’ public can identify or it can discover for [itself] that the GOP supports the most reactionary elements of the vote of the government and that they support the dehumanization of both people domestically and internationally,” he said.

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Some protesters outside the debate came out in support of minimum wage raises and against pension plan decreases.

Bob Amsden from the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions spoke about the impact of the recent changes to the ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) bill that establishes minimum standards for pension plans in private industry.

“And none of these people in that building tonight have a clue what’s going on with the working people in this country,” he said. “It’s devastating.”

Supporters of the legalization of marijuana were also demonstrating at the protest. Eric Marsh from Wisconsin NORML, an organization that promotes legal, social and political change in support of cannabis, asked Republicans to recognize “all the tax revenue that we’re missing out on” without legalizing marijuana.

Gadeer Ayesh from the group Students for Justice in Palestine said elected leaders should be more in tune with how regular people around the world are affected by U.S. policies on national and international issues.

“We need to be held accountable for the decisions we make and our representatives and public figures speaking here tonight are no different,” Ayesh said. “They need to make conscious and responsible decisions because every single thing they say or do affects our nation.”

PHOTO AT TOP: Protesters outside the Milwaukee Theater during Nov. 10 GOP presidential candidate debate. (Raquel Zaldivar/MEDILL)