March 12, 2016
Trump cancels rally over violence fears
Donald Trump was forced to cancel a rally in Chicago on Friday evening after rising tensions between protesters and supporters at the event fuelled fears of violence.
The New York mogul, who has been criticized for using aggressive language towards protesters, called off the event at the University of Illinois after demonstrations increased during the day.
Several dozen protesters were arrested in St Louis, Missouri, where Mr. Trump had also held a rally.
The events come just days before the March 15 primaries in Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida in the US presidential race.
Protests had been expected, and a petition calling for the Chicago rally to be stopped gathered more than 50,000 signatures.
Mr. Trump has been attracting big crowds to his rallies, and tensions between fans and protesters — who accuse him of being racist — have mounted as he has emerged as the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
On Friday afternoon protesters chanting and waving banners passed the Chicago Pavilion where Mr. Trump was scheduled to hold the rally during the evening.
Some banners carried Bernie [Sanders] signs and others the Star Spangled Banner and the Mexican flag. As a helicopter flew overhead, police on horseback protected the main entrance to the 10,000-capacity venue that was half to two-thirds full.
At 6.40pm Trump campaign officials said the tycoon had decided to postpone the event after meeting law enforcement officials, “for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people” that were in attendance. “Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace,” the campaign team said in a statement.
Mr. Trump told CNN that he had cancelled the rally to make sure nobody got hurt even though the protesters had “violated” his freedom of speech.
The news of the cancellation sparked an almost equal volume of cheers and boos from the crowd, revealing the large number of protesters who had come to the event. Tensions rose as protesters and supporters started to mix on the floor of the pavilion. There were scuffles and a protester was removed from the podium where Mr. Trump had been expected to speak.
“We stumped Trump, we stumped Trump,” protesters yelled. Trump fans expressed frustration at the cancellation.