The people who cared the most about Monday night's debate weren't watching it—they were surrounding it in a ring of anger, waving signs, and chanting in an attempt to divert some attention to their cause.
I found myself among them outside of Long Island's Hofstra University. Without access to the debate itself, I ended up following a tip from a student who said he saw Trump's Helicopter land on one of the playing fields. I meandered through the campus, dodging security checkpoints and constantly telling guards that I was going to check in, until I found a helicopter in a football field. Unfortunately, it didn't have the massive "TRUMP" logo emblazoned on its side.
I pushed on and came across a group of Green Party candidate Jill Stein supporters marching on Earle Ovington Boulevard. Half a mile from their destination, an area reserved for protest labeled the "Free Speech Zone," the group realized that the road was closed. Some of them sat down to demand access to the zone, resulting in a few arrests.
But the road was eventually cleared, and they headed to their destination, where they met their counterparts—groups of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporters, backers of Libertarian Gary Johnson (who, like Stein protesters, wanted their candidate to be on the debate stage), a smattering of other fringe folk, like perpetual presidential candidate Vermin Supreme. Almost no one was there to hear any of these protests, except for a few members of the press, and the lack of attention they were getting may have contributed to the surprisingly civil and respectful exchange that ended up taking place. It was a stark contrast to the battle going on inside the debate itself.
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