Police disperse Trump protest crowd with tear gas at rally in Phoenix – USA TODAY
Protesters leave an area near Second and Van Buren streets in downtown Phoenix after police deployed pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Perry Vandell/azcentral.com
Demonstrators explain the pain of getting sprayed after police toss gas bombs into a crowd at a Trump rally in downtown Phoenix. Javier Arce/The Republic.
People peacefully gather after police used tear gas and pepper balls to disperse Trump supporters and protesters during a Trump rally in downtown Phoenix. Daniel Gonzalez/The Republic.
Demonstrators scattered after police fired tear gas into a crowd gathered outside the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. Hannah Gabber/The Republic
Tear gas and pepper spray envelopes an area near Monroe and Second streets in downtown Phoenix. Police fired gas canisters at protesters after a speech by President Donald Trump on Aug. 22, 2017.
Protesters cover their faces and eyes after police deployed tear gas canisters after President Donald Trump spoke at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017. Craig Harris/The Republic
Shortly after President Donald Trump concluded his speech in downtown Phoenix, police deployed tear gas canisters on Aug. 22, 2017. Michael Chow/The Republic
Police deployed pepper balls after President Donald Trump gave a speech in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017. Protesters and Trump supporters clashed throughout the afternoon.
Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators met in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017.
President Donald Trump did not pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio while Trump was in Phoenix, but he indicated support for the idea in his speech Tuesday night.
Anton Williams (left), a Trump merchandise vendor from South Carolina and Wiso Vazquez (right) a freelance journalist talk immigration outside the Phoenix Convention Center during a Trump rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017.
Trump supporters and protesters gathered outside the Phoenix Convention Center before the president gave a speech on Aug. 22, 2017. Sean Logan/The Republic
President Donald Trump supporters and protesters clashed in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017, during the president’s first visit since becoming president. Hannah Gaber/The Republic
A Trump supporter and protester got into a verbal sparring session before Trump’s rally in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017.
Vince Ansel with “Bikers for Trump” says, “Nobody is going to get assaulted as long as we’re here.”
Hours before President Donald Trump was set to speak at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix, Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters lined up outside the convention center.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Jonathan Howard talks about safety at the President Donald Trump rally in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017.
Trump supporters and counter-protesters met in downtown Phoenix hours before the president was scheduled to speak on Aug. 22, 2017.
Trump supporters and counter-protesters arrived hours before the president’s scheduled speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. “Bikers for Trump” said on Facebook, “We need our bikers to show up and keep people safe.”
President Donald Trump visited Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017. It was his first visit to the city since becoming president. He was set to speak at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown at around 7 p.m.
Anti-Trump demonstrators and Trump supporters had a heated exchange outside the Phoenix Convention Center on Aug. 22, 2017. Supporters lined up hours before President Trump was scheduled to speak in downtown Phoenix.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., speaks during a Mi Familia Vota press conference Aug. 22, 2017, at St. Mary Basilica in Phoenix ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mark Henle/azcentral.com
President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 22, 2017. Supporters lined up outside the convention center hours before the president arrived.
Gene Huber, of Florida, was the first person in line for President Donald Trump’s campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Arizona. He arrived at noon on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Mayor Greg Stanton speak during a public safety briefing Aug. 21, 2017, at the Phoenix Police Department. Mark Henle/azcentral.com
President Donald Trump visited the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona, on Aug. 22, 2017. He greeted Marines before leaving for a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
PHOENIX — What had largely been a peaceful rally near the Phoenix Convention Center for President Trump’s speech Tuesday night turned combustible afterward, with police deploying pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse the large crowd.
Phoenix police in a statement said, “People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police. They also dispersed some gas in the area.”
Police said they responded with pepper balls and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
One eyewitness said he saw water bottles thrown at police while other protesters said they saw no provacation.
Kylee Whiteagle, 19, Phoenix, said demonstrators were peacefully protesting in front of the convention center.
“Police started throwing tear gas and pepper-spray pellets and flash bombs to basically make us run away,” she said.
At least a dozen protest groups had melded together outside the center in downtown Phoenix throughout the afternoon and evening under a common cause to oppose the president’s policies.
Anti-trump protesters yelled “shame” and thrust their handmade signs into the air as a long line of people entered the convention hall to hear the president speak.
A group of pro-Trump bikers said they traveled to the area to help ensure the president’s supporters were able to attend the rally.
The gathering before the Trump rally was peaceful.
As of early Tuesday evening, the gathering outside the Trump rally was large but still relatively peaceful. No known arrests had been made, according to Phoenix police.
It also was unclear whether anyone was seriously injured.
Police stood in riot gear on Monroe Street between protesters and Trump supporters. The two crowds had two barriers, and the street, between them. A police helicopter circled above the crowd.
But as the president’s speech went on, and the protest crowd stayed relatively large, more police officers in riot gear entered the area
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams could be seen observing the crowd of thousands of anti-Trump protesters from a balcony at the convention center.
The Phoenix Fire Department reported 26 heat-related calls, with two people transported to hospitals for further evaluation.
Hundreds of people met at Civic Space Park near Arizona State University’s downtown campus before walking to a protest at the Herberger Theater Center near the Trump rally venue.
Some wore Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter T-shirts. Another group identified itself as the “John Brown Group” and carried AR-15-style guns.
Many organizations such as Puente, the One Arizona coalition, Mi Familia Vota, and Progressive Democrats of America were present.
They chanted anti-Trump and anti-fascism slogans as they gathered in front of the theater.
Others used song to make their point.
Congregation members from the Unitarian Universalist Church broke up shouting and chanting, leading the crowd in the gospel song This Little Light of Mine.
“I don’t know why they keep shouting ‘USA.’ We just keep shouting it back. We believe in the same country, just not the direction they are going in,” said Anne Schneider, the former dean of the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University.
Individuals gathered, too
Melanie French wasn’t part of an organized protest group but decided to show up with her family and hold a handmade sign with an image of the state of Arizona that said, “Mr. Hate Leave My State.”
The 44-year-old registered nurse from Ahwatukee Foothills stood in the 106-degree heat near the edge of where protesters gathered north of the convention center and vowed to stay “until I run out of water or run out of steam.”
As she stood holding her sign, a steady stream of protesters made their way onto Second Street, which had been blocked off by police south of Van Buren Street.
Earlier in the afternoon, a number of individual protesters gathered across the street from the convention center on Second Street just south of Monroe. Phoenix police closed Second Street to traffic, and the long line of people waiting to enter the convention center snaked all the way down Second Street and then east along Washington Street.
Cathy Harvard of Phoenix held a handmade sign that said, “Impeach.” The 58-year-old receptionist said this was the first Trump event that she protested, and felt strongly she needed to be outside the convention center to speak her mind. She left work at 1 p.m. to get to a spot outside the convention center.
“I do not like that man. He does not belong in the White House,” she said. “He needs to be impeached. He needs to go.”
Standing in the shade across from the convention center, she wiped her brow with a washcloth. She wasn’t finished with her complaints.
“He shouldn’t even be in Arizona. He’s out having a campaign rally. Like someone is going to vote for him in 2020?”
Pro-Trump bikers, supporters arrive
A group calling itself Bikers for Trump gathered near the Burton Barr Central Library earlier on Tuesday. Their goal was to ensure that the marches outside the rally remained peaceful, said Jim Williams, known as “Reverend Jim” to his fellow riders.
“These people have a right to go in and hear what the president has to say,” Williams said.
Bikers for Trump is a loose-knit group — some riders who showed up said they had never rode with them before. Williams said he has ridden with Bikers USA — United for Sovereign America — for about a decade.
After riding from the downtown library, about 50 members of the group marched to the corner of Second and Monroe streets, where they were met with words of thanks by rally attendees.
Hundreds were in line to watch Trump speak.
Holding a yellow “tea party” “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, Retta Buntin of Gold Canyon said she came out to “support the president.”
“He’s more concerned with people than with politics,” Buntin said.
David Harris, her high-school friend, who was holding the other end of the tea-party flag, joined in.
“I don’t remember any time in our lives when the president was so available to his base,” Harris said.By 5:30 p.m., hundreds, some who brought young children, were still waiting in line to enter into the
Pro-Jewish supporters gather at Capitol
Farther west at the Arizona Capitol, hundreds of people from Arizona’s Jewish community and their allies gathered on the lawn late Tuesday afternoon to denounce what they described as a startling resurgence in neo-Nazism and racism around the country.
Rabbis and Jewish political leaders from the Valley led the rally. Recounting the horrors of the Holocaust that killed more than 6 million Jews, they demanded Trump unequivocally reject white-supremacist groups.
Sarah Kader, of the Arizona Jewish Lawyers Association, told the story of her grandmother, who survived being tortured, beaten and starved in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“I saw the number tattooed on her arm by the Nazis,” Kader said.
After the rally, hundreds of people marched toward downtown Phoenix to join the other protests.
Possible Arpaio pardon draws criticism
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the non-profit Mi Familia Vota hosted a news conference outside St. Mary’s Basilica to denounce Trump’s visit to Phoenix and his potential to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Various organizations who condemn Trump’s possible pardon came together to speak out against him.
“We are here to march together in unity to call to what has been, for a very long time, in our faces: plain and uncovered racism. We are here to call it out,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said.
A White House spokeswoman said later in the day that Trump would not issue a pardon Tuesday. But during his speech, the president hinted that he would pardon Arpaio at a future date.
Outside the convention center, people shared the news with each other.
Moments after word began to spread of a possible pardon, John Schnautz of Phoenix said it would only inflame the situation, if not Tuesday, then when it officially happens.
“It’s like The Apprentice. It’s the cliffhanger!” he said, referring to the TV show made popular by Trump. “That’s what we’re doing here. He had the nerve to do this tonight in Phoenix, Arizona, with all we’ve got going on.”
Contributing: Alden Woods, Ricardo Cano, Jessica Boehm, Laura Gómez, Jason Pohl, Megan Janetsky, Ron Dungan, Megan Cassidy and Gabriella Del Rio, The Arizona Republic. Follow The Arizona Republic on Twitter: @azcentral
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