As people stood in lines for hours to see President Barack Obama at the “Moving America Forward” rally on Friday, some said they were uphappy and inconvenienced by the event.
The rally, which featured Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, actor Jamie Foxx and band Ozomatli, brought 32,500 people to Alumni Park and 5,000 people who overflowed into McCarthy Quad.
Logistics, many said, were the main issue.
Volunteers working at the rally said they felt the event was disorganized and they would have appreciated more instruction from volunteer coordinators.
“I understand that it’s really tough to coordinate something that is so huge, [but] there were definitely parts that could have been improved,” said David Luo, a junior majoring in neuroscience who volunteered on Friday.
Luo also said he was one of many volunteers who were unable to control where people stood based on their ticket color — yellow, green or blue. Discrepancies over the tickets and what they signified caused major confusion among attendees Friday.
“The most unfair thing was the ticketing system,” Luo said. “After a while, there were just too many people rushing through and we couldn’t enforce anything.”
From the safety standpoint, officials said the event ran smoothly. The event required the Secret Service, the Department of Public Safety, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department to work together to ensure safety for the politicians and attendees, said DPS Capt. David Carlisle.
“That planning paid off for what ended up being a safe appearance by the president,” Carlisle said. “We didn’t have any major incidents, and I attribute that to all the planning. … It went extraordinarily well.”
Several people at the rally, however, were treated for minor incidents, such as dehydration and fainting, Carlisle said.
“We had multiple medical calls where we would have to respond EMTs. Most all of them were minor in nature,” said Carlisle, who also said these incidents are not surprising at an outdoor event where attendees are required to stand for many hours.
One attendee who drove from San Diego to see Obama said she noticed several people whom paramedics rolled out of the crowd on stretchers.
“There was a large crowd gathered on the balcony behind the pharmacy [on the steps,]” said Margaret Hokkanen, 50, a real estate agent. “After they cleared the balcony, people were taken one by one on stretchers.”
Hokkanen said she saw one person receiving oxygen while on the stretcher,
Students who did not attend the rally also said they felt inconvenienced by the entire event, making it difficult to get to class and walk through campus.
Lyn Stephenson, a first-year graduate student studying writing for screen and television, said she attended class at a nearby coffee shop because of the chaos on campus.
“As a commuter who takes the train, the shuttle unfortunately dropped me off near the growing lines in the morning. As I walked toward my class, I had to deal with crowds, the event organizers and news reporters,” Stephenson wrote in an e-mail.
Stephenson said the shuttles were running late and were crowded with non-USC students, which made her miss her train while trying to leave campus to go home.
“[The rally] should have been held at a different time. Even a few hours later would [have been] much more convenient, as the majority of classes would’ve been over,” Stephenson said. “If Obama is dedicated to our education, he shouldn’t have interrupted it.”