To see Obama, headstones became step stones

People who stood in line for hours weren’t the only ones desperate to see President Barack Obama in Chapel Hill on Wednesday.

People stood and sat in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery after being directed out of South Road to get a good view of the President, who spoke at a Democratic Party rally at Hooker Fields.

Strict safety enforcement pushed many who wanted to stand as close to Obama as possible across the street into the cemetery. On the side of the street closest to Hooker fields, Chapel Hill Transit busses were lined up to block a direct view of the President and speakers.

People who attempted to stand on the sidewalk were rebuffed and directed to stand behind a rock wall which separates the brick sidewalk and Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on South Road.

While trying to get a view of the current President, some people stood on ground level grave markers, and a few even stood on upright headstones.

Scott Gee, a 2013 UNC graduate, said he was disappointed with the way some people were treating the cemetery.

“I thought it was disrespectful to walk around on the graves themselves, I understand trying to avoid them,” Gee said. “I understand that security was trying to get people off the sidewalks, but I wish people were just a little more respectful.”

Maddie Matzelle-zywicki, a junior at UNC, said she agreed with Gee, but understood why people were desperate to see the President.

“They’re trying to do everything they can to see him,” Matzelle-zywicki said. “There were people standing on the tombstones, and this is a landmark — there’s people who have been here hundreds and hundreds of years.”

A member of the security team who stood behind a yellow barricade on South said it was against policy for him to speak to any member of the press, but that further comment could be reached by contacting his superiors. They could not be reached by the time of posting.

Although some people ended up in the cemetery because they didn’t arrive in time, others thought they had done everything they needed to to see the President up close.

Rachel George, a senior, who tried to attend the rally said seeing the President was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I actually RSVP’d for a ticket, but then I found out that doesn’t guarantee you entry,” Rachel George, a senior, said. “I just ended up over here so I could just hear what he had to say even if I couldn’t see him.”

Registration for the Clinton campaign’s rally started a week before and asked for an online RSVP. After people RSVP’d online, many stood in lines on Monday and Tuesday to secure a ticket to the rally. On the day of the rally, however, people standing in line didn’t need to RSVP or get tickets to enter, and only need to show up early. The official line formed at 8am and people were let in at 12:30pm.

@ColedelCharco

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