Ethan Duran

Trump Rally Becomes Confrontation

Crowd resists Health Department rules, Serb Hall hit with city citations, its manager in fracas with crowd.

By - Nov 15th, 2020 03:38 pm
Nicholas Alioto, wearing the Packers hoodie, shortly after the incident. Photo taken November 14th, 2020 by Ethan Duran.

Nicholas Alioto, wearing the Packers hoodie, shortly after the incident. Photo taken November 14th, 2020 by Ethan Duran.

Management from the American Serb Hall (5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.) met verbal challenges and physical confrontation when they asked rallygoers supporting Donald Trump to abide by Milwaukee Health Department orders. Nicholas Alioto, the general manager of the banquet hall, got into a physical altercation over a microphone with several rally attendees after asking the crowd to sit down and abide by health department guidelines. Video shows Alioto putting his hands on another man’s neck before being pulled down. No one was seriously hurt.

The current Health Department orders state that political gatherings can not hold more than 100 people, and attendees at a bar or restaurant must wear masks, social distance and remain seated unless they are arriving, departing or going to the restroom. The rally attendees in the parking lot, around 500 people, mostly stood and did not wear masks or socially distance. Jeff Fleming, the spokesperson for the Health Department, said that no warnings would be issued due to a policy change and that Serb Hall would receive multiple citations.

Fleming said that the Health Department rules were explained to Serb Hall’s management the day before the event. Two inspectors observed violations at the rally and left after one of them was pushed. The inspector who was pushed was not hurt.

The Republican Party of Milwaukee County organized the parking lot rally. County GOP chairman David Karst, Senator Chris Kapenga, conservative radio personality Vicki McKenna and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke took turns speaking to a large crowd of flag-waving supporters in red caps. The event, dubbed the “Defend Your Vote Rally,” reinforced Donald Trump’s messages serving to undermine the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which was won by Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden..

Rick Baas, the communications person for the Milwaukee County Republican Party, said that the rally asked for a “fair, free, clean, transparent election.” Baas said that he had heard stories about election tampering, but didn’t offer any examples. On stage, Baas told the crowd that the Fox Broadcasting Company doesn’t determine the election.

At the podium, Karst said, “Might wanna put on your mask,” to the crowd, which responded with angry refusals.

A Serb Hall employee cut off McKenna’s microphone in mid-speech, warning the organizers about the Health Department inspection and urged people to follow the rules. The employee asked for people to sit down, but the radio talk person told them to stand instead. The crowd willingly followed with a deafening roar of cheers and chants.

While Clarke spoke, Alioto addressed the crowd with a microphone and told them that the event would be shut down if attendees would not sit. “The City of Milwaukee is here,” he said. “I’m not going to lose that license. I will stop the rally if you don’t sit down.”

Tensions soared as the crowd jeered and converged on him. Someone yelled, “you sit down,” in response.

A man in a Trump scarf ripped the microphone from Alioto’s hands, which prompted him to put his hands around the man’s throat and shove him. After stumbling into a speaker, Alioto was pulled away by another attendee and dropped against a table. He was then helped onto a chair and eventually walked away with the help of another employee. Alioto did not appear seriously injured.

After the rally ended, the hundreds of Trump supporters that were filling Serb Hall’s parking lot spilled out into the intersection of 51st St. and Oklahoma Ave., blocking traffic and confronting Black Lives Matter activists that were protesting outside of the venue. Officers from the Milwaukee Police Department watched and blocked nearby roads to divert traffic away from the area.

Vaun Mayes, a community activist, stood on the edge of the parking lot with several other protesters. Mayes said that it was irresponsible for the rally leadership to hold an event with so many people in one place.

“They take their cues from the president. You have Clarke come down here, you have Dan O’Donnell lead a rally here just a couple days ago. It’s hugely irresponsible,” Mayes said, watching the rally from afar. “It’s costing people their lives and it continues to set the nation back from being able to open.”

A similar rally was held in the Serb Hall parking lot on November 7, when Biden was declared the winner of the election.

Urban Milwaukee attempted to interview Karst twice, once about the rally and a second time about the incident. He declined to answer questions both times.

On Saturday, November 11, Wisconsin Department of Health Services data reported there were 5,146 new cases of COVID-19 that day in the state. 52 deaths were reported Saturday, resulting in a total of 2,625 virus deaths of Wisconsin residents. Milwaukee County has suffered 643 COVID-19 deaths.

Photos from the Event

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Categories: Politics

3 thoughts on “Trump Rally Becomes Confrontation”

  1. tornado75 says:

    where were the police. let’s change the color of the people holding the rally. do any of you believe that the police would not be there in a flash. boo hiss on inequity.

  2. frank a schneiger says:

    As a Southside born son of Yugoslav immigrant parents, one who was taught at an early age to be skeptical of American – or any other – exceptionalism, I hope the irony and relevance of this event isn’t lost. Three decades ago, the Serb Hall demonstrators had different t-shirts and banners. Those were all about Krajina, a mixed region of Bosnia and the Yugoslav federation that Serbia demanded control of. Back then, If you looked askance at the people with the Krajina shirts, you were looking for trouble. Sort of like today if you don’t smile at the Trump fans.

    Fearing a loss of control in a post-communist world, Serb leaders opted for a combination of nationalism and victimization. As the dominant group – essentially the white people of Yugoslavia – defining themselves as victims was the most dangerous of games. Because of what the “others” had done to them in the past, or what they might do to them in the future, any action on the part of Serbs, without any moral constraints, could be justified. (Unlike white Americans, the Serbs could make a legitimate case based on the horrors of World War II.) In addition, Serbia had leaders who were capable of anything, including the Trump-like Radovan Karadzic, who may have had the same hair stylist as Trump, and is now serving a life term for crimes against humanity after overseeing a genocidal war that he and his associates launched.

    There was also a third ingredient to the horrors to come in what was a troubled, but real and beautiful, country. It was the use of mass media, the Fox News of Yugoslavia, to crank up hatreds. President Clinton, having read part of a book on the subject, said that these were “ancient hatreds,” and that the United States should not get involved. As someone familiar with both countries, I am quite certain that the “ancient hatreds” in the United States are far deeper than were those in the former Yugoslavia. It took the Yugoslav versions of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham hammering away every night more than five years to bring them to the boiling point.

    Mark Twain once said that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Let’s hope this isn’t a case of rhyming. Instead of MAGA, the Serbian goal was a “Greater Serbia,” with all Serbs living together. the outcome: the destruction of a nation, a shrunken rump Serbia, a corrupt Croatia, a nice, but tiny Slovenia, etc. And, a legacy of hatred, pessimism and cynicism that will take a long time to heal. Anyone doubting that something like that could lie in our future should look closely at the shots of these rallies, or of older photos of white crowds celebrating the lynching of a Black man.

    A friend recently said that one of the great things about being a Yugoslav was knowing that you could go through life without ever being disappointed. Funny line, right? But not a healthy one, and being disappointed and being frightened are two different things. As the Yugoslavs learned, once the genie is out of the bottle it is very hard to put it back in.

  3. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Trump lost by 5 million popular votes and by a large margin of electoral college votes. The so-called protests vs the outcome of this election are sour grapes. Those 72 million of you who voted for Trump should be grateful to the 77 million who voted for Biden, The Biden voters voted to end a national nightmare. Dig it. Let us get beyond the nightmare of recent years.

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