Friday, March 11, 2016

Donald Trump Postpones Chicago Rally After Thousands Protest Outside

Donald Trump was scheduled to speak tonight at a rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators gathered outside the UIC Pavilion to protest Trump's statements and policies. Media coverage of the protest showed protesters waving Mexican flags and holding signs that read "Will Trade Trump for 1 Million Refugees", "Trump Makes America Hate", and "No Racism".

According to NBC 5, Trump later postponed the rally, reportedly due to safety concerns. The Trump campaign website posted the following message this evening.
"Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and 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, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date."
During a phone interview with MSNBC shortly after the cancellation, Trump remarked that, "We have a country that's so divided that maybe even you don't understand it. I've never seen anything like it, and this has been going on for years ... There's a lot of anger in the country." During another interview with CNN, Trump refused to take responsibility for the chaos. "I don't take responsibility," he said, according to NPR. "I certainly don't incite violence or condone violence."

After the announcement, scuffles broke out between protesters and Trump supporters, reports NBC 5 and Reuters. Outside, protesters and police clashed, with a group of protesters shouting "Sixteen shots!" (a reference to the killing of Laquan McDonald) as seen in a Fox 10 video. Another group of protesters entered the pavilion after the cancellation and chanted "Bernie! Bernie", while a group of Trump supporters shouted "Trump! Trump!", as seen in a CNN video. Footage from inside the pavilion shows arguments, attendees snatching flyers away from rivals, people being led away by security personnel.

At the time of this blog post, at least one Chicago police officer is known to have been injured, according to NBC 5. A video by DNAinfo shows an African American man with a head injury, as an onlooker cries out, "They busted his head!".

It is fair to ask whether violence by Trump supporters at previous rallies precipitated this incident, and whether Trump takes such violence seriously. Can a political candidate who triggers this much anger and division truly be expected to unite America as president?

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