Donald Trump cancels UIC rally amid security concerns

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Doanld Trump cancels UIC rally
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Donald Trump canceled his rally at the UIC Pavilion Friday evening due, according to his spokesperson, concerns about safety.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Donald Trump canceled his rally at the UIC Pavilion Friday evening due to concerns about safety, according to his spokesperson.

A speaker came out to the podium and made an announcement.

"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," he said.

VIDEO: Speaker announces Trump rally canceled

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department tells ABC7 Eyewitness News the Chicago Police Department did not talk to the Trump campaign or tell them to cancel the event, and that the first police heard was at 6:30 p.m. when they were notified by UIC and Secret Service that the event was canceled.

Chicago Police Interim Superintendent John Escalante said in a press conference that police assured the campaign they had more than adequate resources and could guarantee him safe access and exit from the event, as well as the safety of all the attendees, supporters and protesters. He also said that political views became confrontational on both sides, and scuffles ensued. He said a total of five arrests were made and two police officers suffered minor injuries including one who was hit in the head with a bottle and required stitches. The Chicago Fire Department said two civilians also suffered minor injuries and were transported to Stroger and Loretto hospitals.

Chicago police address the canceled UIC Trump rally.

In a statement from UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker, he said: "The University of Illinois at Chicago worked with all appropriate agencies to address the security concerns associated with an event of this nature including the Secret Service, Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police as well as campaign and protest organizers. The vast majority of attendees at today's events exercised their Constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly peacefully. The abrupt announcement of the cancellation of the event created challenges in managing an orderly exit from the Pavilion, which nonetheless, was accomplished with no injuries or arrests."

PHOTOS: Donald Trump cancels Chicago rally at UIC Pavilion

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement, saying, ""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."

The 10,000 seat Pavilion was nearly filled when the rally was canceled. As the crowd waited for the event to begin, it became apparent that it included at least hundreds of protesters. Activist Jedidiah Brown told me he and other infiltrators were on a mission to disrupt Trump's speech as often as possible.

"How does a man who speaks a message that's going to take America backwards become the possible frontrunner of an entire party that represents American values?" Brown asked.

The crowd of protesters outside the area swelled to at least 1,000 people. Some attendees said they had signed up for tickets, but those tickets were never collected so anyone could have gotten into the event. Protesters surrounded the Pavilion, heckling attendees as they left.

Protesters outside the Pavilion were loud, but peaceful. Inside the Pavilion, there appeared to be thousands of protesters in attendance, mostly young people and UIC students. At the announcement, undercover protesters who had entered the Pavilion as Trump supporters broke into wild celebration, shouting "We stopped Trump! We stopped Trump!"

The ensuing chaos included pushing, shoving and a few fistfights with several people taken away by Chicago and UIC police.

UIC has an especially diverse student body, including many sons and daughters of immigrants. Some questioned Trump's decision to hold the rally there in the first place. The students who came to protest said they were speaking out against Trump's bigotry.

The outbound Eisenhower Expressway was blocked near the UIC Pavilion briefly with protesters before Chicago police cleared the road.

People were stuck for a time in the UIC parking garage across the street from the Pavilion due to protesters blocking the street outside. Some inside the garage were frightened.

"The police, they don't seem to be doing anything to get anyone out of here, so everyone in the parking garage started to get weapons out of their car, they're ready to fight," said a caller named Cathy. "We're stuck in the garage. We haven't moved. We haven't been able to leave."

One driver said someone in the swarm of counter-Trump protesters shot at his car then tossed a brick at the windshield. Cars began leaving the garage not too long after that, with police controlling the flow of vehicles.

Hundreds of protesters outside the Donald Trump rally at UIC Pavilion.

Many attendees came from Indiana and Wisconsin, making it a day trip to see the candidate they support. They were disappointed it was canceled.

Trump took to cable news to say he is still considering rescheduling the Chicago rally. He blamed protesters on CNN.

"These are people that cause problems. And they have caused problems. And they stop the right of free speech for other group that are totally nonviolent groups of people," he said.


VIDEO: UIC Students talk about why they're protesting Donald Trump

Protests about a Trump rally in Chicago started days ago.

About 180 faculty and staff members signed a letter to the university's chancellor expressing concern. Students at the diverse campus said it is no place for Trump, especially for his platform of hate and intolerance.

UIC officials said they believe the decision is not an endorsement but in line with a long-standing policy to rent to politicians.

"It was quite disappointing that they couldn't cancel because we feel it's not just offensive to us, the things that he's spreading, but it's also something- we feel unsafe here on campus having someone like that here, and his supporters," says Asa Wahdan, of the UIC Muslim Student Association.

Local Latino groups also were not happy about Trump's visit.

"I do not believe Donald Trump will make it to the White House. I believe that America is a great nation - we all believe in protecting our sovereign nation. The difference between Donald Trump and I is that I don't believe it should be at the cost of destroying families, deporting people. And that's why we're here today," said Julie Contreras, League of United Latin American Citizens.


Crowds of protesters and the Chicago police presence grows as Trump rally start time nears.

Hours before the rally, Chicago police were on horseback and bicycles around the pavilion, as well as police tactical teams.

Chicago police officials said the rally was a Secret Service security operation, with them in a supporting role.

Secret Service opened doors at UIC about 15 minutes early. Rally attendees had their bags searched and were wanted and checked for weapons.

With Trump the subject of Secret Service protection, even his supporters are not allowed to bring in signs, posters or banners and full size cameras, GoPros and selfie-sticks are also banned.

But as in other cities where Trump has appeared, there are detractors.

"There's hate in that pavilion," says protester Sophia Sarabia. "We believe with our prayer and our drums, we can overcome this hate with love. God is love."


Increasing levels of violence have been witnessed at Donald Trump rallies, a cause for concern at the UIC rally Friday.

During the last CNN GOP debate, Trump was grilled about a violent exchange at his North Carolina rally Wednesday, in which a supporter sucker-punched a protester in the face as he was leaving.

"When they see protest and some cases, you know you're mentioning one case which I haven't seen, I heard about it, which I don't like. But when the see what's going on in this country, they have anger that's unbelievable," Trump responded.

The ugly moment has gone viral. Police say the man who threw the elbow, 78-year-old John McGraw, is now charged with assault and battery.

The Trump campaign says they "discourage this kind of behavior" and "ensure the safety of any and all attendees," but the attack follows weeks of trump suggesting to his supporters that they get violent.

"We're not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days," Trump lamented at one rally.

"So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously," he said at another event.

"I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you," Trump said at a different rally.