What it’s like to defend Trump

Ryan Sidebottom attends school assembly and tries to defend President-elect Donald Trump. 


For Jennett Harlow and her son Ryan Sidebottom, supporting President-elect Donald Trump has already become a problem.

They are among Trump backers who say they are on the defensive, feeling intimidated and isolated, after a 2016 election that was one of the most divisive in memory. Threats and harassment have been reported by opponents and supporters of Trump, some of the them recorded on cellphones and posted to Facebook and other social media sites.

Sidebottom, 17, attends Jurupa Valley High School, where school officials Thursday announced a lunchtime gathering to allow students to share their feelings about the election and whether they were fearful about the outcome. “There’s only a few white kids at our school,” while the majority are Latinos, Sidebottom said.


He attended the meeting, he said, sitting with friends on the right side of the bleachers. Some students came with signs, including one that read “He’s not my president.”

“I was a little mad about it,” he said. “I feel he’s going to be a great president.”

He felt he was the only one defending Trump and said he wasn’t allowed to respond to criticism. Then a friend began recording the encounter with his iPhone.

In the video, a school official — Sidebottom said it is the principal — can be heard saying, “We can’t change people, we can only educate them.” Sidebottom said he felt the comment was directed at him. Jurupa Valley school officials could not be reached for comment.

The video has been shared by his friends and family on Facebook and has at least 9,000 views.

After the assembly, he went to class. He said some of the girls who were holding up signs were outside his classroom, even though they don’t attend his class.

He said one of the students threw a sign at him, and he threw it back at her. “They were calling me racist, simple-minded,” he said.


In Northern California, Ivet Lolham was riding a Bay Area Rapid Transit train home when a passenger overheard her speaking Assyrian and confronted her, she said.

Lolham pulled out her phone and began recording.

“Trump might deport you,” the woman said in a one-minute video Lolham shared on Facebook late Thursday. “This woman is a stalker from the Middle East. She’s a Middle Eastern terrorist, she’s terrorizing citizens like me and she will probably get deported.”

Lolham warned the woman that she planned to post the video on Facebook.

“Nobody’s gonna watch it,” the woman said, later adding, “You’re standing here harassing me, and I think you’re an ugly, mean, evil little pig who might get deported. And I pray that you do.”

Lolham could not immediately be reached for comment. Her video was seen more than a million times and shared more than 28,000 times.

Similar events have been reported throughout the state.

Latino high school students in Northern California were given mock “deportation letters” by a classmate in an incident that authorities believe was tied to the election.

In Burbank on Thursday, a dispute erupted at a bar where two men argued over the election and immigration policy. One of the men brandished a gun, police said. A suspect was later arrested.


On Wednesday, two men confronted a female student wearing a hijab in a parking lot stairwell at San Diego State. University police said the pair “made comments about President-elect Trump and the Muslim community,” and then stole her keys and her car.

Harlow, 47, said she is concerned her son might get hurt at school for speaking his mind.

“Is he gonna get jumped? He may get hurt, especially if they threatened him,” she said.

She intends to talk to school officials Monday.

“What’s done is done, everybody needs to join together and unite as one” after the election, she said.


Woman accosted on Bay Area train: ‘Trump might deport you’

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