Racially-charged sentiment infused the protests and split the crowd both politically and physically. Obama supporters congregated on the west side of the road in front of the high school and his critics lined up across the street.
Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”
Many on both sides wore red, white and blue and carried small flags.
“It just kind of happened naturally,” said Michael Pomales of how the opposing sides separated. Pomales, an 18-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident who graduated in the spring from Desert Vista High, said he decided to join the protesters side “to spread a little love” as the crowds began shouting at each other.
Pomales said his response to people yelling for Obama to go back from where he came from is simple: “He’s a great man. He cares about what I care about, education, jobs. He’s our president. He’s an American.”
Deanna Bartram, a 17-year-old University of Arizona student from Black Canyon City, lashed out at people who call her racist for not supporting Obama. She believes Obama supporters use the “race card”against her because they disagree with her political message.
“Obama is ruining American values. He is ruining the Constitution. He needs to go back to where he came from because obviously, he is a liar,” she said. “I am not racist. I am part Indian. Obama’s half Black, half White.”
“He’s 47 percent Negro,” shouted Ron Enderle, a 77-year-old Chandler resident who said that he and his son served as Marines and his grandson is currently serving in the Marines.
Enderle criticized the president mishandling security at the U.S. Benghazi Embassy.
“My grandson is third generation Marine, and it bothers me to have this man as our commander in chief. I’m ashamed,” Enderle said.
Judy Burris said that she blames Obama for racism in America reaching heights not seen since the 1960s Civil-Rights Era.
“We have gone back so many years,” she said. “He’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.”
She said that she brought her 12-year-old grandson Christian Cabrera to the protests because she thought it would be educational.
“He’s Mexican,” she said of her grandson.
Cabrera said he wanted to accompany his grandma “so I could protest about impeaching Obama.”
I’m not naive, but I really thought we’d made greater strides in race relations than this. Instead of people dialing back their hatred and bigotry, electing a black President has led the far right to say: “See? We elected a black President. Proof positive that the country’s not racist.” Actually, comments such as the ones above are proof positive that we’ve still got a long way to go.
I wonder if any of these folks will ask to see Ted Cruz’s birth certificate? He was born in the land of hockey, socialized medicine, and the MacKenzie Brothers, after all. We all know the answer to that question…