Security concerns, protests for Chicago Trump rally

ByRob Elgas and Will Jones WLS logo
Friday, March 11, 2016
Security concerns ahead of UIC Trump rally
Donald Trump brings his campaign for the White House to Chicago's UIC Pavilion Friday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Donald Trump brings his campaign for the White House to Chicago's UIC Pavilion Friday night. His rallies have often resulted in confrontations between supporters and protesters and there are concerns about security.

Thursday night, Latino clergy and community members led prayerful protesting outside the Pavilion. They have a message for Trump.

"Hatred and racism are the first words that come to the minds of many of us that have been affected by his inappropriate comments," says Julie Contreras of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

A police presence is already visible on the urban campus. Barricades and street closures are imminent, and protests have begun well in advance of the event.

Jorge Mena is a graduate student in Latin America/Latino studies at UIC and is also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He created a petition on in protest of the rally. Nearly 50,000 people have signed on.

"We called for it to be cancelled because we've seen that on his campaign trail, Trump supporters have been very violent," Mena says.

"We have learned to live together in harmony with one another and we are going to say to Donald Trump that we don't need your bigotry and your hatred and your division in the city of Chicago," says U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).

A 78-year-old man is facing charges after he punched a protester Wednesday at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, an act caught on cell phone video. It follows weeks of Trump suggesting supporters get violent.

"So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them would you?" Trump said at a previous rally. "Seriously, okay? Just knock the hell-I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise, I promise."

That's the not message outside the UIC Pavilion Thursday night.

"We will be armed here, through the night, only with prayer and peace," says Contreras.

The university and Chicago Police want to calm safety concerns ahead of Friday's event. On Thursday, Chicago police released a statement saying, "We have an everyday working relationship with the Secret Service and are coordinating very closely with them, Chicago Fire and the university on everything from logistics to traffic to safety and security."

One UIC junior still doesn't know who he will support in the primary so he's looking forward to hearing what Trump has to say in person.

"I have never been to a political rally before so I just want to see what it is all about. I heard the vibe is going to be pretty crazy over here," says Nathan Vant Hoff. "It is definitely people's right to disagree and I think it is good for everyone to get involved, whether they agree or not, as long as it is in a peaceful manner."

Hundreds are expected to protest outside UIC on Friday, though that number could be as high as thousands.