In spite of the forecast for oppressive heat and the potential for clashes between supporters and demonstrators, safety will be a priority at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Greenville.
The “Keep America Great” rally will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at East Carolina University’s Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The university has emphasized that it is not hosting the event, but it is renting the space to Trump’s 2020 campaign.
“It has been different in the fact that we will have the President of the United States on hand and we have coordinated our efforts with the campaign staff as well as the U.S. Secret Service,” Capt. Chris Sutton of the ECU Police Department said. “Other than that, we have approached this event with the same priority in mind as all other events. Safety is the first and most important priority.”
Minges Coliseum has a capacity of 8,000, Sutton said, and there will be overflow room set up. Police expect attendees to start arriving around 9-10 a.m. There will be free parking around Minges and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadiums.
All event attendees must go through a metal detector. A number of items are prohibited from entering the stadium, including signs of any size, weapons of any kind, coolers, selfie sticks and bags exceeding the stadium’s 10 inches by 10 inches size limit.
Other prohibited items are aerosols, ammunition, animals other than service/guide animals, balloons, bicycles, drones, explosives, glass, thermal or metal containers, laser pointers, pepper spray, packages, flag poles, structures, supports for signs and placards, toy guns, firearms, and any other item determined to be a safety hazard.
Eastern North Carolina is experiencing a heat wave, and Wednesday the temperature is forecast to reach the high 90s. Sutton recommended drinking “copious amounts of water” and wearing “cool, lightweight clothing that is lightly colored.”
In addition to supporters, the police are also expecting demonstrators, Sutton said.
“Every effort has been made to keep demonstrators separated from supporters and to maintain the highest level of safety and sense of calm possible,” he said.