Trump forced to cancel Chicago rally amid chaos
Chicago : Donald Trump cancelled his campaign rally here citing security concerns after hundreds of people gathered at the arena to protest against his ‘politics of hatred’ and scuffled with his supporters in the largest-ever demonstration against the Republican presidential frontrunner.
The controversial real estate tycoon initially delayed his rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion last night but his campaign later announced that it was being postponed “for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena”.
This is one of the rarest of the rare occasions that a political rally has been cancelled due to protests, which Trump’s rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio described as a “sad day” as they blamed the tycoon’s political discourse for creating an atmosphere of hatred and animosity.
Thousands of people had gathered at Trump’s rally. Eyewitnesses said hundreds of Trump’s protesters had entered the auditorium and said that they would oppose his rally.
Inside the auditorium, fighting broke out between supporters and protesters, who waved flags and chanted hours before Trump was due.
Chicago Police said no arrests were made. Heated argument and some violent exchanges were seen on television camera as almost all the news channels were showing the event live.
Ever since Trump started his campaign, his rallies have been attracting protests – mostly by a handful of people – who were being taken out of the venue.
News channels said there were hundreds of protesters in not a few thousands of them who had gathered in large numbers against what they allege as the politics of hatred.
This was the largest-ever protest against the 69-year-old who has made headlines over his controversial statements.
Trump said protesters were between 2,000 to 3,000 and against some 25,000 of his supporters inside and outside the venue.
“Even though freedom of speeches is violated, I made the decision in conjunction with law enforcement not to do the rally. There were minor skirmishes, but no clash,” Trump told CNN.”I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
The billionaire businessman insisted that he could have held the rally. “I think we made the right move,” he said. “I do not like seeing violence at all.”
“Overall, we have been very mild with protesters. Until today we never had much of a problem,” Trump said and denied that this has anything to do with the tone of his speeches.
“I hope that my tone is not causing that problem,” he said in response to a question.
Protesters chanted “We stopped Trump” as they cheered cancellation of the rally.
Cruz told reporters in Chicago later in the night: “When the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that is escalates. Today is unlikely to be the last such incidence.”
Asserting that his supporters are peaceful, Trump said he has “no regret” over what he has said during his campaign rallies.
“It is a divided country. We have a very divided country. It is terrible,” Trump said, adding that the protest was mainly due to the economic problem in the country.
African-Americans have a 59 per cent unemployment rate. A day earlier, participating in the last Republican primary presidential debate had alleged that some of the protesters were bad people.
“We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and they start hitting people,” he said on Thursday.
Cruz called the Chicago episode as a “sad day. Political discourse should occur in this country without the threat of violence, without anger and rage and hatred directed at each other.”
Responding to a question, he blamed the protesters for the incident in Chicago but quickly added that in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top.
Rubio termed the incident as “very disturbing” and added that the anti-Trump protest was organised and orchestrated efforts on part of those who wanted to disrupt the event.
Chicago is a hub for this kind of activity, he said. He alleged that Trump “bears some responsibility” for the general tone and some of the other things that have happened at his events including people being punched at face.
“We are entering very disturbing moment in our political discourse in the country that is reaching a boiling point, which I believe has a very significant repercussion not only for this election but also for the future of the country,” Rubio told Fox News.
At the same time, Rubio alleged some of the protesters were paid to do this.
“It is sad. Clearly there is some level of racial and ethnic divide on how this is playing on television. It reflects very poorly on our country. I am very sad for our country,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say Mr. Trump is responsible for the events of tonight, but he most certainly in other events has in the past used some pretty rough language and encouraging the crowd, saying things like, “in the good old days we used to beat these people up, or I’ll pay your legal bill if you rough them up”.
“So I think he bears some responsibility for the general tone for the things happening,” he said.
Governor John Kasich, another Republican presidential candidate, blamed Trump for the atmosphere.
“Tonight, the seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign finally bore fruit, and it was ugly. Some let their opposition to his views slip beyond protest into violence, but we can never let that happen. I urge people to resist that temptation and rise to a higher level,” he said.