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Updated: Trump Rally Postponed Due To 'Safety' Concerns

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 12, 2016 12:49AM

By Aaron Cynic and Tyler LaRiviere

Updated 10:50 p.m.: The Trump rally was postponed shortly after 6:30 p.m. as hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the UIC Pavilion. The announcement was received with a mixture of cheers and boos from the large crowd gathered to hear the Republican presidential frontrunner speak. Outside, violence and chaos punctuated some crowds as protesters and rally-goers filled the streets.

An announcement from Trump rally organizers said: "Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed until another date. Thank you very much for you attendance and please go in peace."

Reports say several protesters were arrested and others were ejected from the pavilion before the rally was set to begin. Some reporters say they witnessed altercations, fights breaking out, and punches thrown.

The first set of people to be deported by security happened more than an hour before Trump was scheduled to take the stage. Three men who appeared to be college aged sporting shirts that read “Muslims Unite Against Trump” were escorted out, which began a lengthy process of Chicago Police moving in to various sections of the Pavilion where large amounts of demonstrators were congregated and escorting some of them out. Each time police moved in, Trump supporters stood up and cheered, and protesters met their chants with “let them stay!”

Things got heated on the floor shortly before 6:00 p.m. as several scuffles broke out between Trump’s supporters and his detractors. Meanwhile, thunderous chants of “we stumped Trump,” “we shut shit down” and “Bernie” drowned out the groups of people chanting for Trump. While the majority of those against Trump remained in the stands, his supporters taunted them from the floor. After shouting some obscenities, one man gave the group a Hitler salute.

As it became more obvious that much of the crowd wasn’t there to support him, a booming voice came over the loudspeaker telling Trump’s supporters to “not harm” protesters, but advising them to circle around demonstrators with signs and begin chanting “Trump” until police could escort them out. When the announcement came that Trump would not appear at the event due to “safety concerns,” the crowd erupted—but those cheering drowned out those booing. Huge swaths of Trump’s detractors took the floor, cheering and chanting. Several Trump supporters approached the media pen, expressing their discontent. One woman blamed the press for Trump skipping out on his rally:

“You are the reason why Trump is not showing up. You’re the reason why people think he’s racist and has been vilified.”

One man attempted to rush the stage and attempted to grab the microphone, but was taken down by security as Trump supporters booed him.

A Chicago Police Department rep later told reporters that the police did not think the rally faced any safety concerns before it was shut down, and that the decision to call it off came as a surprise. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hinted at this surprise in a statement released around 10:30 p.m.:

“For all of us who cherish the ideals upon which our country was founded, the hateful, divisive rhetoric that pits Americans against each other demeans our democratic values and diminishes our democratic process. I want to thank the men and women of the Chicago Police Department for their hard work tonight in unexpected circumstances, and their continued commitment to protecting people’s first amendment rights.”

4:30 p.m.

As thousands of people began to file inside the UIC Pavilion for Friday night's Donald Trump Chicago campaign stop, hundreds of protesters began to line up as well to denounce the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

As some demonstrators began speaking on a small stage set up in the adjacent parking lot, those entering the Pavilion briefly started chanting “USA, USA.” Earlier in the day, when a man driving by asked me what was happening outside and found out it was a Trump rally, his response was “oh, shit,” before driving off.

Since the last time Trump brought his xenophobic parallel universe to Illinois
, his demonstrations have become increasingly violent, with an African-American protester in North Carolina being sucker punched by a Trump supporter who later said, “next time we might have to kill him,” and at least one bloodied demonstrator lead out of a rally in St. Louis Friday afternoon. According to the New York Daily News, Trump mocked demonstrators and even attempted to blame them for the violence that happens when people are removed.

“Our country has to toughen up. They're allowed to get up and interrupt us horribly and we have to be very gentle They can swing and hit people, but if we hit them back, it's a terrible thing."

Back in Chicago, Jim Rotterman, a retired teacher from the North Side of Chicago, said he came out to protest Trump because he believed “we could do better.”

“I'm pretty aggravated and I know we can do so much better as a country with a leader other than Donald Trump. He brings out the worst in us, divides people, insults people. He's xenophobic, misogynist, you name it.”

Rotterman, who said he generally voted Democratic but supported Illinois' Republican Governor Bruce Rauner last election, said that the “worst” Trump brings out is the “hatred of them, people who are othered.”