LIMA — For a moment, 38-year-old Erin Dunson, of Lima, and her 16-year-old son Ceyshon Huggins were the two most unpopular people in the room at the UNOH Event Center, being escorted out of the room after interrupting Republican vice-presidential candidate Michael Pence with chants of protest as he was addressing a political rally Friday evening.
“The environment ended up being a little more hostile than I expected,” she said. “I had seen other Trump events, but I didn’t expect the anger and volatility to be here in Lima.”
For Dunson and her son, the decision to protest during Pence’s speech grew out of what she saw as a growing culture of anger and malice in America being exacerbated by the Trump campaign.
“There’s so much going on right now in America, with Black Lives Matter and the shootings against the police, and Trump’s entire message and campaign has been based on the fear, the anger, the ignorance and hatred,” she said. “It’s not okay in our country and it’s not okay in my town where I’m raising my kids.”
Dunson said that political environment prompted her and her son to chant “Lima trumps hate” during Pence’s speech. As the two were escorted out, however, Dunson expressed dismay at hearing her son was shoved by someone as they were leaving.
“I didn’t realize it as he was behind me until after I got home and was tagged in some footage, and you could see a man shoving my son,” she said.
As the twosome were escorted out to chants of “USA, USA,” Pence did not vilify Dunson or Huggins from the podium, instead emphasizing that protesting is still permitted in America.
“That’s a freedom we have,” he said.
Despite the negative reception Dunson and Huggins received while protesting — including someone caught flipping them the bird by a Lima News photographer — she said it was worth it.
“I’m glad we did it,” she said. “Even if it only reaches one person and makes them stop and think for a moment, you know that Lima does trump hate. Lima is better than that. We’re a community that has grown up together and has spent our lives seeing the same people day to day. As a community, we are better than the hatred that is being spread by Trump and Pence.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.