Students and community members from both sides of the aisle gathered at Exposition Park on Monday to welcome President Barack Obama, who visited Los Angeles to speak at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign.
Obama arrived in Exposition Park at around 5 p.m. by helicopter. Both protestors and supporters were in attendance to greet him.
Though Exposition Park was gated off and entrance to the night’s events was too expensive for many students — tickets for the reception at the California Science Center ranged from $250 to $2,500 and tickets to the dinner at the Natural History Museum cost $17,600 — some chose to stand along Figueroa Street to protest or show support.
Several members of USC College Democrats turned out to the event in support of Boxer’s campaign.
“The Democrats are out here because we support President Obama and we support Barbara Boxer,” said Aaron Perman, a junior majoring in business administration and the vice president of USC College Democrats. “We believe Barbara Boxer is the right choice for California.”
Perman said the group had hoped to get more members out to Exposition Park to be a stronger presence.
“Unfortunately, we’re spread out. We all had classes now, and we have a meeting later tonight,” Perman said.
About 50 protestors, including USC students, were also on hand for the president’s arrival. Members of USC Students for Carly, a support group for Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina, attended the event to show their support for Fiorina and voice their opposition to Boxer and Obama.
“It was a really positive experience for everyone who was there,” said Lauren Korbatov, co-chair for Students for Carly. “One group of people was anti-Obama because they opposed the war, and our protestors were there to support Carly Fiorina … We were there to represent Carly’s campaign and voters who want to see Barbara Boxer defeated.”
Some students happened upon the fundraiser unintentionally and found themselves unable to get through. Because of security concerns, officials closed several heavily trafficked streets, including Figueroa between Exposition Boulevard and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Exposition between Figueroa and Vermont Avenue, Flower Street between Exposition and 38th Street, and Figueroa between McCarthy Way and Exposition. USC gates 1 and 2 were also closed from 5 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Though students understood the need for enhanced security, some found the traffic barriers inconvenient.
“It’s already pretty hard to get around campus because the streets are always under construction, so I think it’s really unnecessary,” said Jonalyn Abraham, a sophomore majoring in architecture who was turned away at a gate near Exposition as she was biking with a friend. “Our campus doesn’t need to be closed off if it’s over there.”