Supporters Clash With Protesters After Trump Abruptly Cancels Chicago Rally
Long-standing tensions between some Trump supporters and demonstrators who say the billionaire is abetting racism with his statements on Mexicans, Muslims and other groups appeared to come to a head on Friday in Chicago.
The Republican presidential front-runner abruptly canceled a campaign rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago after hours of protests "after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena," according to a campaign statement.
It was a big win for demonstrators, who finally shut down one of the increasingly raucous rallies. Supporters were less enthused.
And, according to some witnesses, their disappointment turned ugly as protesters celebrated their victory.
The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2016
"Tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date," read the Trump campaign's brief statement. "Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace."
As CNN notes, that did no happen.
Multiple fistfights broke out between Trump supporters and protesters soon after the announcement just as Chicago police tried to restore order.
Police had been watching and waiting for hours at the proudly diverse university as demonstrators amassed in opposition to Trump. Dozens of faculty and staff had petitioned university administrators to cancel the rally over concerns about a potentially "hostile and physically dangerous environment."
While the rally was canceled, the hostility remained.
As some protesters yelled slogans like "We stumped Trump!" and held signs denouncing Trump as a supporters jeered.
The clashes spilled into the street as officers muscled both sides out of the auditorium.
By the time the chaos died down, police in Chicago had arrested five people. Two officers were reportedly injured.
Following the cancellation, Trump took to Twitter, where he joined a chorus of his supporters in blaming the demonstrators for the nixed event.
"The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!" he tweeted.