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UIC Police Union Slams Police Guidelines For Trump Rally

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 17, 2016 2:50PM

Demonstrators are escorted out by police at Donald Trump's cancelled UIC rally on March 11. Photo by Tyler LaRiviere/Chicagoist
The union representing University of Illinois at Chicago police officers slammed the school for the way it handled the Trump rally-that-wasn’t last Friday.

According to a letter obtained by ABC7’s I-Team, Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 381, which represents university policy, blames UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker and other officials for “questionable decisions” which “showed a complete disregard for their safety,” and put cops in “unnecessary danger.” Seven campus officers, all leaders within the union, sent the letter.

“We feel that, at every single turn, what we, your officers, needed to perform our job safely and to the best of our abilities was disregarded and ignored,” reads part of the letter. “By allowing this, it also placed each and every attendee, student, and VIP in unnecessary danger as we could not provide the appropriate level of protection and safety they deserved.”

The union and its President Anthony Robinson blamed several factors: university police were ordered to leave pepper spray in their lockers and not allowed to wear dark leather gloves; three individuals who were arrested that night were later released; and officers were told they weren't allowed to put their hands on demonstrators.

Thousands turned up to protest the Trump rally—both inside and out—which the GOP frontrunner cancelled at the last minute due to alleged “safety” concerns. While the New York-based carnival barker has made claims he was advised to do so by authorities, interim Chicago Police Superintendent Joe Escalante said no such advice was ever given:

“The Chicago Police Department had no role. In fact, I can tell you we did assure the Trump campaign that we had more than adequate resources outside the UIC Pavilion and that we guaranteed them we could provide safe access and exit for Mr. Trump.”

The University’s public affairs office refuted the claims in the letter in a statement, saying that police were never told not to wear gloves, just not darker ones which “look aggressive,” that instructions not to place hands on demonstrators were given to campaign staff and a private security contractor that was also on hand, and that riot gear “was available if needed. Regarding the pepper spray, the University said:

“O.C. spray, or pepper spray, is contraindicated in closed, confined areas such as the Pavilion and could have presented a hazardous situation for event attendees.”

In fact, had university police had pepper spray on hand or been clad in riot gear, things could’ve escalated further. At a rally in Kansas City just a day after the Chicago rally was cancelled, police could be seen gratuitously unloading pepper spray on a crowd of demonstrators.

Five deputies involved in a situation in North Carolina were disciplined this week for not only failing to do anything about a Trump supporter for punching a man being peacefully escorted out of the building, according to ABC. Officers instead, tackled the victim, whose assaulter was later charged after video surfaced.