THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The line to get into Donald Trump's rally Friday near Houston stretched through a mall, over a stream, and passed several rows of town homes. It was more than a mile long.
The rally — held in an upscale, master-planned community north of Houston — drew the biggest crowds of the presumptive Republican nominee's recent gatherings, with some of the thousands of attendees showing up Friday morning for the event that didn't officially begin until 7 p.m. It was, apparently, friendly territory for Trump.
It was a mixed crowd, with long-time Trump diehards mingling with people who had to overlook some of the candidate's more recent controversies. The Patterson family had both.
Katie and Jeff Patterson showed up at the campaign rally with their sons, Josh and Justine. The family attended another Trump rally last year, before he announced his candidacy, and decided that if he ran they would support him. And over the ensuing months, Jeff remained convinced but Katie went back and forth.
"I have been off the Trump train and on the Trump train," she told BuzzFeed News, citing the candidate's combative tone.
Steve Silva had no such experience. A die-hard Trump supporter, Silva spoke while eyeing the end of the very long line. He ultimately didn't get into the event, but said that in any case he had come out to "give people shit who give Trump shit."
"Not to say I'm here to get in a rumble," he added.
Joseph Walker, left, and Steve Lord, right, attend a Trump rally near Houston.
Amid the throngs of Trump supporters outside The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, protests remained relatively small. For the first few hours, a group of about 30 people — smaller than protests at any of Trump's other rallies this week — stood on a nearby street corner, chanting and holding signs.
By the time the rally actually began, police had cordoned the protesters into several areas — a tactic that dispersed the anti-Trump crowd over several corners of an intersection and kept crowds smaller. Police also banned protesters from playing the song "Fuck Donald Trump" and told the crowd they were not allowed to display signs with the "F bomb."
Although police largely kept protesters penned up in small areas outside of the convention center, two women — Rina Rahman and Natasha Wright — dressed in veils and abayas were able to make their way near the door. Although Rahman is a Muslim, her coworker and friend Wright is not.
“She came out looking like me, so I wouldn’t be by myself,” Rahman said, tears in her eyes. “This is the future of my kids. I have two daughters, two and four. If it’s overrun by these people who hate people because of they are or believe, the future is down the toilet.”
Rahman, who is white and converted to Islam in college, said she decided to come to the rally because “I’m tired of talking. I had to do something.”
Rahman said people in line had been “threatening to kill me, threatening to kill my family. Dude, we are all Americans. Houston is our home.”
Wright said that when she came to the rally, she was dressed “in my normal clothes” and she went into the Marriott hotel to change into an abaya and veil. “When we came out a woman yelled ‘Here come the Muslims!’”
“I needed to know what it felt like. A long time ago, if I’m being honest, I had [anti-Muslim] views, because I didn’t know,” Wright said.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at email@example.com.
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