Retired pastor stands up to Trump, gets booted from Fargo rally

Allyne Holz stands outside of her apartment in Moorhead. Holz was removed from Scheels Arena during the Trump rally on June 27. David Samson / The Forum
Allyne Holz stands outside of her apartment in Moorhead. Holz was removed from Scheels Arena during the Trump rally on June 27. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Allyne Holz waited four hours in the sun to see President Donald Trump on Wednesday, June 27, and, after finally making it into Scheels Arena, she stood up and turned her back on him as he spoke.

"The message that I hoped I sent to him and to others in audience is that not everyone agrees and maybe to get one person to think, 'Ooh, maybe I should rethink my thoughts,'" the 67-year-old retired Lutheran pastor said. "Not the most effective method, but I'm too laid-back to do protesting, hollering and screaming."

She said it took the Trump supporters around her a few minutes to realize what she was doing. First there were frowns, then they chanted "Trump Trump Trump" and pointed at her as they'd been instructed to call over security.

Men in suits — she thought they might have been with the Secret Service — and Cass County sheriff's deputies escorted her out, and she soon found herself in her car telling her Facebook friends about the thing she did.

Discussing her concerns about the president, she listed many things his critics have complained about: racism, sexism, authoritarianism. But her greatest concern, she said, is how Trump treats others, such as undocumented immigrants from Latin America who are being separated from their children at the border.

Eight others were asked to leave the arena Wednesday and one of them was arrested when he or she tried to return, according to police spokeswoman Jessica Schindeldecker. She referred questions to Deputy Chief Joe Anderson, who said he didn't have their identity and couldn't find the arrest report. Court records didn't show anyone charged with criminal trespass Wednesday or Thursday.

Susan Gibson, another woman who was ejected, told WDAY-TV that she, too, wanted the president to know her displeasure with the "degrading" state of the country.

"I never thought that we would be in the type of situation that we are now, where all of our rights are being taken away," she said. "It's probably the scariest part of my life that I've seen. I thought that if we confront him, the more it upsets him."

Rick Berg, the chairman of the North Dakota GOP, said he was in the front rows of Scheels Arena and didn't hear any protest. He said it was peaceful compared to Trump rallies he's been at in other places that have been disrupted by "paid protesters."

Holz might be best known in the area as a former pastor at Glyndon Lutheran Church, where she served from 2000 to 2007. She now lives in Moorhead.

She's spoken up in several published letters to the editor, especially when people who claim to speak for all Christians act as if the Republican Party is the party of Christ. Though not a registered Democrat, she said that's how she normally votes and sided with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, "the socialist."

Holz grew up in the 1960s and watched the protests of the era with interest but didn't join them because the "mob mentality" scares her, she said. "That's not to say the Vietnam or civil rights protesters were mobs or Trump people are mobs, but you get a mob mentality where in that group, things can get out of hand quickly. That scared me."

But Trump scares her more, she said.

In July 2016, she followed Trump to the National Republican Convention in Cleveland as he sought the party's nomination to run for president.

Holz said she walked outside and sought out those with name tags indicating they're delegates. "Mostly, I asked them to pray before they voted," she said.

She'd never done anything like that before, she said. "When I jumped in I jumped in all the way. Both feet."

On Wednesday night, she continued her solitary protest despite having many friends among the hundreds of protesters outside.

The biggest challenge was maybe making it clear she was protesting.

Holz said she listened to Trump talk for about 20 minutes while trying to figure out how to stand out in a crowd full of people standing up. She said she eventually decided to stand in the aisle with her back to the president, and that did the trick.

Holz remembers the moment when she decided to go against her quiet nature. It was about a month before the GOP national convention and she was having lunch with a friend when talk turned to Nazi Germany.

She said it was about history, not politics, and they both wondered how a country could go down that path and have no one speak up against it.

Later, she thought about Trump's authoritarian ways and decided she didn't want a bunch of 60-somethings of the future wondering why no one spoke up against him, she said.

"So that's why I went. I did not want to be counted among those who did nothing."