Trump supporters and counter-protesters stand outside of Belmont University before the final presidential debate on Oct. 22. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long) (Hunter Long)
Trump supporters and counter-protesters stand outside of Belmont University before the final presidential debate on Oct. 22. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Hunter Long

IN PHOTOS: Crowds gather outside Belmont before the final presidential debate

Protestors and supporters of both parties gathered in front of Belmont’s campus in preparation for the Oct. 22 debate

October 23, 2020

Before President Donald Trump and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden arrived for the final presidential debate held on Belmont’s campus Oct. 22, demonstrators gathered to show their support for their candidate.

The Nashville community has been gearing up for the debate throughout the week, with road closures and event preparations affecting local businesses and Belmont students. 

Protesters stand outside Belmont University before the final presidential debate on October 22, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long) (Hunter Long)

Protestors and supporters began gathering on Wedgewood Ave. late in the afternoon, around 5:00 p.m. CDT, according to senior Gabriella Blum, who showed up in support of Biden. 

Both candidates arrived on Belmont’s campus via motorcade about a half hour before the debate was scheduled to begin. Biden arrived first at approximately 7:29 p.m. CDT; Trump followed, arriving at approximately 7:36 p.m. CDT. 

The motorcade arrives at Belmont University for the last presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Geena Han) (Geena Han)

“I really wanted to get out and support the Biden campaign because I really think that he’s the best candidate, and I think that coming here is just one way to show my support,” Blum said. 

Nashville native Sandy Hook also decided to take to the streets to support Trump. 

“I’m here to support my president and to support his country,” Hook said.

Other Nashville locals including Josh Johnson, who came out to support Biden, were excited to be at the debate.

“You don’t really have to say anything. I don’t have to be wearing any of this. You can tell, if I’m wearing a mask, what side I’m on. As an American citizen, as a human being, it’s just those basic things,” Johnson said.

Protesters Stand outside of Belmont before the final presidential debate on Thursday, October 22, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long) (Hunter Long)

Not everyone who attended the pre-debate gathering was from Nashville. Seth Drayer, vice president of Created Equal, a pro-life organization based in Columbus, OH, traveled to Belmont to talk to voters.

“Our goal is to reach voters who are walking by to be educated, so we’re not out here primarily for the candidates,” Drayer said. “We’re here for those who are gathered walking by to see the ramifications of your vote.”

While supporters of Biden and Trump were present, others, including libertarian Zevedee Hackett-Reicher, were also at the protest. Hackett-Reicher said segregation existed in every direction.

“We’ve got Black Lives Matter, Trump, right, left, all of this. At the end of the day, it’s noise because the real issues are financial,” Hackett-Reicher said.

Blum said that she was not surprised by the gathering that developed outside Belmont. 

“One side of the road is Trump supporters, the other side is Biden,” Blum said. “One side of the road has no masks; the other side has masks. I think it’s all stuff that I was expecting.”

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