by Ronnie Estoque
On Saturday, Vietnamese Americans for Biden (VAB) held a march and rally to galvanize the local community to cast their ballot for Biden in the upcoming election. The rally began with supporters congregating at Othello Park, with supporters eventually making their way to New Holly to submit their ballots. Above Othello Park, an airplane flew overhead displaying a Trump 2020 banner.
Jefferey Vu, a Regional Director for VAB, co-led the event with Washington State Rep. My-Linh Thai alongside other community members. Two other Washington State representatives, Rebecca Saldaña, and Sharon Tomiko Santos, were also in attendance. Jesse Robbins, who had attended a Trump rally as a counter-protester at the King Plaza shopping center on October 17, also spoke during the event.
“They [Trump supporters] have every right, just like we do, to hold a rally and do their thing and support their political candidate,” Robbins said. “So do I. I also think that I could do that without getting my head knocked in with a flagpole.”
Robbins claims he was assaulted by a group of Trump supporters when they noticed he was counter-protesting their rally. The case number for his assault is 2020-296283 and is currently being reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office to see if it will be reactivated for investigation. Additional information was sent to the Homicide and Assault Unit by Robbins, including surveillance camera footage of the incident taken from a second floor store in King Plaza.
Rep. Santos also commented on the incident, stating that Robbins was entitled to stand up for his right to protest but that his right was taken away.
“This was a suppression of free speech. This was an attack that was clearly violent. He had to go to the hospital and get stitches. This is exactly the kind of violence and hatred that the Trump campaign has been fomenting across the nation,” Rep. Santos said.
Vu also expressed his goals of uniting the community after the assault and asserted that violence and political intimidation in the South Seattle community should not be accepted by its residents.
As the rally attendees made their way to New Holly to cast their votes, they were met by Trump supporters who had congregated near the Bank of America on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Othello Street.
Lindsey Nguyen, a Trump supporter and organizer of the counterprotest for Saturday’s Biden rally, shared her observations of the incident that occurred on October 17.
“He [Robbins] got beat up a little bit because there were more people on this side, so once the fight got started people just jumped it,” Nguyen said. “But then there was also a lot of us that came in to stop the fight.”
Nguyen also shared criticism of how the Washington State government has mandated mask-wearing in public due to COVID-19. She expressed ways in which she has struggled financially as a business owner during this difficult economic time, which has ultimately motivated her to become more politically active and align herself more with Trump’s policies than Biden’s.
“The reason why I’m here is to let people know that we support Trump, we support Culp, we want to flip the state red,” Nguyen said. “Inslee has been shutting down the economy.”
Dung Nguyen, who was listed as an involved individual in the police report, also shared his perspective on the incident. According to Dung Nguyen, he and other Trump supporters began to follow Robbins with their flags and attempted to block his sign again after he had walked away from them.
“Everybody have flags, so everybody using their flag to block the view. Not touching him or anything but using the flag and set in front of him,” Dung Nguyen said.
Robbins hopes to eventually pursue civil and criminal charges against suspects involved with the case because he believes political violence should not be normalized during an election that is a week away.
Ronnie Estoque is a Seattle-based reporter. He is driven to uplift marginalized voices in the South Seattle community through his writing, photography, and videography. You can keep up with his work by following his Twitter account @RonnieEstoque.
March for Biden on Oct. 24 (Featured image by Ronnie Estoque)