CHICAGO, IL — A Donald Trump rally in Chicago rally on the UIC campus was canceled over concerns about security as the crowd grew to large, raucous proportions and tension formed between Trump fans and foes. Thousands of protesters cheered when the announcement was made, celebrating the fact they shut down Trump’s rally.
Chants of “Bernie, Bernie” echoed through the arena. Trump supporters countered with “USA, USA, USA.”
Tempers flared, however, and fists flew as Trump backers and protesters got into each other’s faces. Thousands of anti-Trump protesters managed to get inside the UIC Pavilion.
One police officer was injured in the scuffling. He was seen walking outside the arena at the intersection of Van Buren and Racine with blood streaming down his face.
Witnesses said much of the scuffling and conflict in Chicago Friday night was initiated by the protesters, not the Trump supporters.
— Jeff Orr (@JeffOrr773) March 12, 2016
As of 7 p.m., Chicago Police report that no arrests had been made. Witnesses, however, reported having seen several people being taken into police custody.
Chicago Police also said the decision to cancel the event was not a police decision. Trump told MSNBC he made the call.
“I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Trump told the network. “I think we made the right move.”
Trump went on to say the images of the chaos at his rally could spur greater voter turnout on Tuesday when Illinois, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina conduct primaries. Trump also said he “can’t even have a rally in a major city anymore.”
Protesters and Trump supporters began yelling at each other, shoving and throwing up middle fingers after the announcement. Police were frantically wading into the crowd inside the arena to separate people. Fights then began breaking out.
Hundreds of Chicago Police officers were deployed to the scene in advance. More Chicago Police, State Police and UIC police were deployed into the area. Police lined up en masse on aisles in the arena to push people out of the venue.
Chanting anti-Trump protesters blocked the entry to the parking garage as the arena at the University of Illinois at Chicago was evacuated. Witnesses claim that some protesters were beating on cars in the parking garage with hammers, but this has not been confirmed.
Anti-Trump protesters lined up for block after block around the arena Friday night. Outside the arena, protesters began jumping up and down on police cars in celebration. As of 7:30 p.m., the scene outside had calmed considerably.
— Evan F. Moore (@evanFmoore) March 12, 2016
Trump supporters began lining up at 3 a.m. Friday to get into the arena. Trump was already 30 minutes late getting to the arena when the postponement was announced. The GOP frontrunner never took the stage.
The UIC Pavilion holds 10,000 people. Protest groups indicated they could bring as many as 15,000 people to the campus to rally against the policies and positions Trump has espoused during his campaign — including deporting Mexicans, building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, and barring all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump also has encouraged his supporters to get rough with protesters, telling them “don’t worry, I’ll pay the legal fees.”
Throughout the week, Trump has been criticized for not discouraging his supporters from attacking protesters at his campaign rallies. The criticism intensified after a 78-year-old man punched a protester in the face a few days ago.
Earlier today in St. Louis, Trump said of protesters at his rallies, “These are not people who made America great.”
Many protest groups, including college students, African-American organizations, Mexican groups and Muslim organizations organized efforts to bring people to the campus to protest this rally.
— Jeff Orr (@JeffOrr773) March 12, 2016
— Jenny Korn ~ Groovy! (@JennyKorn) March 12, 2016
— Yoav Gonen (@yoavgonen) March 12, 2016
The scene right now at the Trump rally in Chicago is surreal. Hard to believe what I’m watching is happening in America.
— Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) March 12, 2016
— Kelley Greene (@kelleygreene) March 12, 2016
— Chris Vaughn (@vaughnchicago) March 12, 2016
— Brett bside Matthews (@iamthebside) March 12, 2016
— Geoff Ziezulewicz (@JournoGeoffZ) March 12, 2016
Celebration continues inside Trump’s postponed rally in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/K27NzbrLmw
— Bill Ruthhart (@BillRuthhart) March 12, 2016