The leadership of the Staten Island GOP definitely subscribes to the age-old adage, "Turnabout is fair play." When thousands of teens on TikTok attempted to sabotage a Trump rally, the organizers turned the tables and tricked them into donating to the Republican Party.
The Staten Island Republican Party organized the "TRiUMPh Rally," billed as the "largest pro-Trump, pro-Republican, pro-Law and Order rally in New York City this year." Originally, the event was free to all, as long as they RSVP'd before the Oct. 3 event.
At one point before the rally, the organizers noticed that the RSVPs skyrocketed suddenly, and tens of thousands of people were responding and asking to attend the pro-Trump rally.
"We had about 1,500 RSVPs from Staten Islanders. Then all of a sudden we started seeing the numbers tick up to 10,000, 15,000, 75,000," Staten Island GOP chairman Brendan Lantry told The New York Post. "We knew something was not right."
The organizers spotted that the uptick of activity started on Sept, 19. Most noticeably, the purported rally-goers were from out-of-state. Not to mention that they had some questionable names, such as "Ivana Punchyou," "F**kyou Trump," and "Grabemby DePussay." Is that last name French?
Lantry's wife Jessica did some investigating and found the source for the fake rally participants — TikTok. A 19-year-old TikTok user who goes by the name of "Felisrae" posted a video on Sept. 19, subtly hinting for her followers to claim tickets to the Trump rally.
The 51-second video is captioned, "if you're from new york or just HATE this idiot."
"Do you hate this orange b**** as much as I do? It turns out that Trump is having a rally in Staten Island," the teen says on the TikTok video. "So what I did was, I reserved myself two seats. But I'm pretty sure that I have something to do that day. So, do what you want with this information."
The video racked up over 550,000 views and more than 154,000 likes on TikTok.
The goal of the video is to cause Trump supporters not be able to attend because the tickets will be gobbled up by people who had no intentions of attending. This troll tactic was employed in June for a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
That campaign event was not as popular as other Trump events, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) celebrated the lower-than-expected turnout. "Y'all make me so proud," she said.
"Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at former Trump campaign senior advisor Brad Parscale.
To deter the anti-Trump saboteurs from influencing the rally, Lantry added a non-refundable $5 fee to the online sign-up form. But the army of trolls were unflinching in their attempt to affect the rally.
"But they kept coming," Lantry said. "From Colorado and California and Chicago and Houston, all over the country."
The Staten Island GOP said that the organization sold more than 3,000 vouchers and collected $15,785 from people who had no intention of attending the rally.
To make matters worse for the Trump-hating trolls, the rally was attended by 2,500 people to deliver well-wishes to President Donald Trump. No seats were sold since it was an open-air rally. The attempted sabotage didn't affect attendance whatsoever.
"They hate this president so much that they're willing to donate to the Republican Party to troll him," Lantry gloated. "Thank you, progressives, for helping us put on a successful rally."
#StatenIsland New York wishes you well Mr. President! “Get well soon” @realDonaldTrump. https://t.co/YxdSQAatND— Nicole Malliotakis (@Nicole Malliotakis)1601749199.0