by Frederick H. Lowe
Thousands of anti-Donald Trump protesters forced the candidate who is seeking the Republican nomination for president to cancel a rally Friday night in Chicago.
The rally was scheduled for 6 p.m. at the University of Illinois Pavilion, but protesters begin showing up as early as 2 p.m. to protest the appearance of Trump, who has encouraged his supporters to beat protesters.
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters packed the free event that required an online registration. Thousands more gathered outside, surrounded by a police perimeter.
Thirty minutes before the rally was scheduled to begin, Trump called it off after conferring with police. But Chicago police claimed they never met with Trump or officials from his campaign about canceling the rally.
Anti-Trump protesters and Trump supporters began pushing and shoving each other after the event was canceled. Chicago police said two officers were injured and five people were arrested.
Trump supporters blamed Black Lives Matter and liberals for the cancellation.
The clash in Chicago followed a similar one between Trump supporters and protesters earlier Friday in St. Louis. Police arrested 32 people.
On Wednesday, a Trump supporter at a Fayetteville, N. C. rally sucker-punched Rakeem Jones, an anti-Trump protester. Police later arrested 78-year-old John McGraw. He was charged with assault and battery and is scheduled for an April 6 court appearance.
Trump said later that he had no regrets about his tough talk, including a remark that protesters in the old days would be carried out on stretchers.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who is also seeking the Republican nomination for president, said “there are no fights at my rallies.”
Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, held a rally Friday night in Summit, Ill., which was not disrupted.