Donald Trump‘s rallies are becoming battlegrounds.
Protesters disrupt the GOP presidential candidate’s speeches, Trump launches insults and threats into the crowd. Trump’s supporters and those determined to keep him from being elected throw punches at each other. Racial epithets are thrown back and forth. Police take out the pepper spray.
Donald Trump’s rallies have seen an uptick in violence in the past month. This has been seen most recently in Chicago, where a rally was cancelled, and at events in Ohio and Missouri, where Trump was repeatedly interrupted, Fox News reported.
The Trump rally in Chicago was cancelled out of concern that tensions between protesters and supporters could lead to violence. Opponents were protesting against Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims and Mexicans. The next day, a man rushed the stage at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, and was promptly removed and arrested. Trump’s rally in Kansas City, Missouri, was met with constant interruptions from protesters.
CBS News journalist Sopen Deb, who has been covering Donald Trump’s campaign for months and was arrested Friday night as fist fights broke out at the Chicago venue, said the violence has escalated.
“This is nothing new. However there has definitely been a recent uptick. I have certainly never seen anything like last night. That was unprecedented.”
Protesters blocking the street outside the Donald Trump rally in Chicago pic.twitter.com/nHpbQAlAFr— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) March 12, 2016
The chaos started escalating earlier this month at a Donald Trump event in New Orleans, which was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters. Trump’s speech was peppered with pushing and shoving in the crowd. This week, a white Trump supporter punched an African American protesters in North Carolina. In Cleveland, police patrolled an event on horseback and helicopters circled overhead. Brandon Krapes was punched numerous times for holding the sign, “Trump: Making America Racist Again.” His 17-year-old son was also struck while trying to help him.
“The sheer amount of hatred in there is so blatant, and Trump does nothing to stop it,” said Indian-American student Sean Khurana. “He provokes it.”
Donald Trump responded on Saturday by demanding that police arrest protesters who interrupt his events. He reasoned that it’s the only way to “stop the craziness,” the Washington Post reported. He made the comments at the rally in Kansas City.
“I hope these guys get thrown into a jail. They’ll never do it again. It’ll destroy their record. They’ll have to explain to mom and dad why they have a police record and why they can’t get a job. And you know what? I’m going to start pressing charges against all of these people. And then we won’t have a problem … I hope you arrest ’em and do whatever you have to do. And you know what? Once that starts happening, we’re not going to have any more protesters, folks. We’re not going to have any more protesters. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to ruin somebody’s life. They’re probably good kids, you know? They’re probably good kids. I don’t want to ruin people’s lives.”
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, GOP candidates Marco Rubio and John Kasich, and President Barack Obama have all condemned the violence and Donald Trump himself.
Clinton called the Donald’s rhetoric “ugly” and “divisive,” and blamed him for fomenting the violence at his rallies. Priebus said “violence is never the answer. Violence only begets violence.” Rubio seemed to back away from his previous plans to back Donald Trump if he wins the primary. When asked if he’d go forward with that endorsement, he said “I don’t know.”
“We are being ripped apart at the seams now, and it’s disturbing and I am sad — I am sad for this country,” he added. “This country is supposed to be an example to the world.”
Obama didn’t directly mention Donald Trump in his comments during a fundraiser in Dallas.
“Our leaders — those who aspire to be our leaders — should be trying to bring us together and not turning us against one another and speak out against violence and reject efforts to spread fear or turn us against one another. And if they refuse to do that, they don’t deserve our support.”
Donald Trump has appeared to embrace the chaos at his rallies, using interruptions by protesters to inspire his supporters to chant “USA, USA.” An event in Illinois Sunday is expected to be met with protests and extra police will cover the event.
[Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP]