Saturday night’s Trump rally in Arizona, like many before it, was marked by yet another episode of violence. An anti-Trump protestor – who showed up with a woman wearing Ku Klux Klan headgear – was physically assaulted as he was being led out of the rally, held in Fountain Hills. Before the rally started, a number of other demonstrators clogged a main road leading into the city, backing up motorists for miles.
According to CNN Politics on March 19, dozens of protesters parked their vehicles across two lanes of traffic on Shea Boulevard Saturday afternoon, preventing individuals from getting to the rally. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said the boulevard was a main artery into the area and that the blockade was forcing motorists to drive into oncoming traffic in an attempt to maneuver around.
“This is causing huge issues for us,” Enriquez said at the time. “We obviously have to get this road open.” Three protesters were later arrested and charged with obstructing traffic. Two vehicles were also towed from the scene.
Inside the rally, Trump’s speech was marred by an attendee who walloped a protestor as he was being led out. The protestor, who identified himself as Brian Sanders, spoke on video about being assaulted. Sanders, who called himself an independent, said he was “protesting Trump’s fascism, his racism, his lies and his women hating,” and contrasted the peaceful Bernie Sanders protest on Friday with the violence at Trump’s rally Saturday night.
Moments before the attack, Trump called out the person in the KKK hat and called for his security to eject them. “There’s a disgusting guy, puts a Ku Klux Klan hat on, he thinks he’s cute, he’s a disgusting guy,” Trump said, assuming the protestor was a man. “That is a disgusting guy, really disgusting.”
As they were being led out, Trump said, “They’re taking away our First Amendment rights, they’re troublemakers, they’re no good, and we’d better be careful. We’ve got to take our country back, folks.”
Other protestors gathered in the crowd behind Trump waved signs and shouted expletives at the GOP frontrunner. A security detail including Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski confronted and removed the protestors.
Trump suggested that he laments having people thrown out, though he and his staff have done so at nearly every rally he’s held. Some individuals have been tossed for standing silently in protest, others for doing nothing at all. “I hate to have ’em arrested, you know, we have this hall, this is our hall, and we could have him arrested, really they’re trespassing, you do that – you ruin their lives, who wants to do it, right?” Trump said to the crowd.
In late February, a group of students were ejected from a Trump rally held at Valdosta State University in Georgia – ostensibly for being black and for no other reason. Over two-dozen black students were escorted out by Secret Service – before Trump even took the stage. In January, a Muslim woman was escorted out of a Trump rally in South Carolina by armed security officials after she protested the Republican candidate’s views on Syrian refugees – by simply standing, folding her hands and saying nothing.
Last week, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of assaulting a female reporter who attempted to ask Trump a question as he was leaving a Florida press conference. After the incidents in Arizona, a trump spokesperson was careful to point out that Lewandowski did not touch any of the protestors gathered at the Trump rally.
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“Corey Lewandowski was speaking with a protester at today’s rally in Tucson, Arizona when the individual he was speaking with was pulled from behind by the man to Lewandowski’s left. The video clearly shows the protester reacting to the man who pulled him, not to Mr. Lewandowski. Mr. Trump does not condone violence at his rallies, which are private events paid for by the campaign,” Trump’s spokeswoman wrote in an email.