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Trump supporters line up hours in advance of rally

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Thomas O'Neil-White, WBFO
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Hours before the doors were scheduled to open at First Niagara Center, numerous supporters of Donald Trump were already lined up in anticipation of the evening's rally for the presidential candidate.

Donald Trump's rally comes on the eve of the New York Primary and he, according to polls, enjoys a comfortable lead over GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

People began arriving early in the day - one individual began camping out overnight - to get in line for what is expected to be a capacity crowd inside the arena. Hopes were high the Republican front-runner would soon gather enough delegates to secure the party’s nomination. Members of the group waiting in line at First Niagara Center echoed what many Trump supporters across the country have said about him.

"He’s original, he’s bombastic but in a good way.” said Nico Mitchell of East Amherst, who long after the event, added that he was there as part of a student project covering the event, and not as a Trump supporter.

At the time, outside the event, he elaborated that some of Trump’s support comes from fans who view the candidate as an outsider.  

“The politicians that we have in Washington, D.C. are just not getting it done. Donald Trump represents the silent majority, and they are awakening much, much quicker and much more.”

Others waiting in line were passionate about Trump’s ideas on immigration and national security.

“We need to take care of our own people first.” Said Jari Tiebor of Cheektowaga. She says she believes in a path to citizenship for immigrants and Trump is the person to do it the right way.

“Charity begins at home. We can be compassionate, but still we have to look after the security and safety of our own nation, and I feel very strongly that Trump will be a strong leader.”

Others expressed concern for the economy and the damage done to Western New York by policies including the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The economic policies, we can’t continue that way anymore. I mean, back in the early 90s when they signed NAFTA they promised manufacturing jobs and as you can see right here in Western New York they’ve all gone," said Dan Keefe of Jamestown, who was in line with his family. "Whether they’ve gone to Mexico or wherever they’ve gone, they’ve gone. Whether he can bring them back, who knows. But nobody else is promising to even try to bring the jobs back to this country.”

Buffalo Police began closing streets in the vicinity of the arena during the noon hour. They included: South Park from Illinois to Main, Main Street to Scott Street, Washington Street from Scott to Perry, Illinois Street from Perry to South Park, and Perry Street from Main to Mississippi Street.

Supporters interested in attending were strongly encouraged to arrive early. The doors, according to Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo, were expected to open around 4 p.m.

"Secret Service will be doing screening," Rinaldo said. "There will be no bags, backpacks, purses, any type of packages, signs, banners, poles, obviously weapons, food or drink inside the arena."

Trump's campaign stops have brought with them numerous protestors and many are expected in Buffalo for Monday night's event. They will be allowed to gather at the First Niagara Center, but away from the queues where supporters are lined up.

"We are going to allow them to congregate on Perry Street, directly across the street from the arena, on the sidewalk closest to the HSBC Atrium," Lt. Rinaldo said. "But again, you will see a large police presence. We will not tolerate any acts of criminal behavior on behalf of anybody attending the event. We ask everybody to just remain peaceful."

Just as many were turned away at rallies for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders due to venues reaching capacity, many Trump loyalists are expected to be turned away Monday evening. Lt. Rinaldo said those people will be encouraged to find a local establishment where they may watch the speech.

A monitor will not be set up outside the arena, he said. 

This article was  modified from it's original form on April 28,2002 to clarify Nico Mitchell's role as a student observer at the rally.

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