CHICAGO — After Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed in Wednesday’s debate that protesters were paid to disrupt his March rally in Chicago, Chicagoans shot back that they happily did it for free.
At the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Trump repeated speculation that the protests that shut down his rally at the UIC Pavilion were paid for and orchestrated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
“I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence,” Trump said at the debate. “[Clinton] is the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people; they paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying, be violent, cause fights, do bad things.”
Chicagoans who attended the March 11 protest jokingly started asking for their checks on Twitter after the debate.
When you protested the Donald Trump Chicago rally but didn't even know about/ have yet to be paid your $1500>>>— Crys (@Queen_C_xoxo) October 20, 2016
South Shore pastor Jedidiah Brown, one of the highest profile protesters at the event who rushed the stage and tore up a Trump sign before being escorted away by security, said he did it for free and no one asked him to do it.
“I need Donald Trump to please tell me where I can get my $1,500 for standing against him at the Chicago rally,” Brown posted on Twitter late Wednesday.
Brown was again in the news Wednesday after being arrested while stealing Trump signs in the suburbs.
He joked in an interview Wednesday that Clinton probably should be paying him at this point for all of his protests against Trump.
Brown said he supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and is a “Bernie-or-bust” guy.
Trump, Chicago didn't need to be paid to express our dislike for you. We just ain't got none!— Christopher Mikell (@Mikellangelo_) October 20, 2016
Retired public school teacher and activist Fred Klonsky wrote on his blog that he definitely was not paid to protest at the Trump rally.
"I was at the first Trump protest in Chicago last spring, along with about 10,000 others," Klonsky wrote. "First of all, I didn’t get $1,500. I was free. So was [my wife] Anne. Second of all, I wouldn’t give to or take $1,500 from the Democratic National Committee. Not at any price."
The claim resurfaced Oct. 17 after Project Veritas released a video purporting to show undercover footage of Democratic operatives admitting to trying to stir up trouble. Some critics say the video is edited to take statements out of context, a practice the organization has been criticized for in the past.
However, the two operatives have stopped working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, including Robert Creamer, the husband of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat whose district includes parts of the city's North Side, including Rogers Park, Uptown and Lakeview.
One operative, Scott Foval, is seen in the video saying, "It is not hard to get some of these a******* to pop off. It's a matter of showing up to want to get into the rally in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt, or 'Trump is a Nazi,' you know. You can message to draw them out, and draw them to punch you."
The Trump campaign has provided no evidence to support an Obama link to Trump’s claims. The Trump campaign pointed to political organizers with past connections to the Democratic Party, but they were not employed by the party at the time of the Chicago protest, according to Politifact.
Some of Trump’s own supporters claim protesters were paid by his Republican rivals.
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