CHICAGO, March 12, 2016 – Republican front-runner Donald Trump decided to postpone his Chicago rally after massive riots broke out at the University of Illinois at Chicago Friday night.
Trump organizers made the decision shortly after 6:30 p.m. as security officials escorted nearly a dozen anti-Trump protesters from the arena. The front-runner never made it to the arena, citing security concerns to explain the decision to cancel.
Trump’s campaign released a statement saying, “he 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.
“Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace,” the statement continued.
Three people removed were wearing shirts that read “Muslims United against Trump” and “Make America Hate Again.” Another unfurled a banner that read “Trump = Hate.”
The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that it was notified at 6:30 p.m. that the Trump campaign had cancelled its event. Trump told MSNBC in a telephone interview, “I just don’t want to see people hurt. We can come back and do it another time.”
Earlier Friday at a rally in St. Louis, Trump was repeatedly interrupted by protesters.
A total of 32 people were arrested at the event at the Peabody Opera House, police said.
Questions have been raised in recent days after a man at a Trump rally sucker-punched a protester leaving an event in North Carolina and after a Breitbart reporter accused Trump’s campaign manager grabbing her hard enough to cause a bruise.
The campaign manager has denied the claim.
Police quickly cleared the arena, where thousands had gathered for the rally, while hundreds more protested outside. The protesters chanted, and there appeared to be a few minor tussles between Trump supporters and the protesters.
Tensions began rising leading up to the rally, as students and faculty signed a petition to stop the presidential hopeful’s event. The petition garnered more than 50,000 signatures.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside a parking garage adjacent to the arena, where police set up a human barricade to allow supporters to go to their cars and leave. More than a dozen police officers on horseback were there. Trump also blamed the media for what he saw as an inflation of the evening’s problems.
Trump says most incidents involving protesters are tame and in control, saying that he has been “very mild” with those who disrupt his events and that his events are gatherings of “great love” that are interrupted by some unruly, violent people.
Other say Trump’s words have incited the protesters and violence.
As information emerges, the protest and protestors were part of organized groups coming in from the outside like #BlackLivesMatter and #MoveOn.org.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s main rival for the GOP presidential nomination, and Florida Sen. Marco Cruz took a much sharper tone on Friday night.
Trump is being held accountable for some who state that he has incited the violence at the rallies, a claim that other are saying is false.
Rubio is calling for voters to vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and him, anyone but Trump, in order to keep Trump from getting key delegates and thereby forcing a brokered convention.