Donald Trump is a controversial figure, especially recently with his comments equating Nazis and the KKK with those protesting against them, as well as comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington. Some say that he hasn't been strong enough in denouncing white nationalist hate groups.
Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Some fans think those two statements shouldn't both be true, and they are protesting to try to get WWE to remove Trump from the Hall of Fame, just as the WWE did with Hulk Hogan when he was caught on tape using a racial slur.
Last night, a group of WWE fans, led by resident John Stevens, protested outside of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is where all of the festivities for the four day SummerSlam weekend will be held. Stevens and his fellow protesters want WWE to "reject racism by tossing Trump from an honored spot with the company."
The protesters' ranks were bolstered by fans who are in town for SummerSlam weekend. Stevens, who says he is a big wrestling fan, understands that with Linda McMahon acting as the head of Trump's Small Business Administration, the conflict of interest makes this a touchy subject, and there must be pressure to simply stay silent. But he says WWE must take a stand either way. Being silent is being complicit.
Stevens told Gothamist how this all came to pass:
"We were talking about how Trump gave that crazy press conference, and then thought about how he's in the WWE Hall of Fame even though Hulk Hogan got kicked out over racism. What Trump has done is remarkably worse than what Hogan did, since he's dividing the country by siding with neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
"I was sickened by that press conference, and his response to Charlottesville. Basically, WWE is endorsing those comments by having [Trump] in their hall of fame. I can't wrap my brain around the fact that they'd leave him in there, take Hogan out and claim they say they care about racism.
"It's kind of a gut-check moment for the WWE. If they want to put their fans in this position, especially minority fans, and insult them to their faces by supporting someone who supports white nationalists, they can do that. But the backlash, I think, will be severe."
Stevens' co-protester and fellow Brooklyn resident Stephen Miller says this is an seminal moment for the company:
"They have two options; leave someone who defends neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the Hall of Fame and accept that their fans will look at them as hypocrites the next time they take a stand about racism, homophobia or other forms of prejudice, or have a spine and stand up to racism. If they choose to leave him in the HOF I will question whether or not I'll continue to watch their product."
Stevens and Miller say that they have other protests planned for NXT Takeover on Saturday and SummerSlam on Sunday. Stevens knows that the WWE can just ignore the protest outside of the arena but they have a back-up plan. They'll protest during the shows in the arena, he says.
"We might protest during the shows, we've got prime seats. Where our seats are, you'd definitely see it, you'd hear the chants. WWE could take care of this problem now, or they could have it come up during one of their biggest pay-per-views of the year and have it be on the WWE Network forever."
Stevens also runs a website, RacistWWE.com, where a paragraph describes the group like this:
"This group is a collection of wrestling fans from all across the United States who were saddened and sickened by the divisive language of the President. WWE has a long history of on and off air racism and we are asking them to take a stand against hatred and racism."
Their Mission Statement reads as follows:
"In short, our goal is for the WWE to remove Donald Trump from their Hall of Fame after his defense of white nationalists this past week.
The WWE removed Hulk Hogan from it's Hall of Fame because of racist comments he made. We are asking the WWE to remove President Donald Trump from it's Hall of Fame, effective immediately, because of his words defending white nationalists and Neo-Nazis. WWE claims to be an inclusive company. We are asking them to put their money where their mouth is and stand up to intolerant hate speech."
Donald Trump was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame back in 2013, at the height of his Birther movement, where he refused to believe that then-President Barack Obama had been born in the USA.
Gothamist reached out for comment but hasn't heard back from the WWE as of press time. But this means that the WWE is aware of the protest and the threat for others, and the ball is now in their court.