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Violent incidents at Trump rallies will only escalate

Write to the Point


Last updated 3/17/2016 at 8:46am

I figured events like political rallies can get heated when you have people with differing opinions gathered into one place, but I’ve never expected them to turn into something like a hostile school playground or a soccer riot.

During a March 11 campaign rally for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Trump’s supporters clashed with protesters. Trump said he canceled the rally after consulting with law enforcement, but the Chicago Police Department and university police said they never spoke with the Republican candidate.

The incident in Chicago is just the latest in the violence happening at Trump’s rallies. In Fayetteville, N.C., on March 9, a Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester as he was being escorted out of a rally. The day before Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski supposedly yanked the arm of Breitbart news reporter Michelle Fields, which both Trump and Lewandowski denied.

In February, at a rally in Virginia a secret service agent choke-slammed a Time Magazine photographer after he left the media pen.

But Trump doesn’t view these incidents as violent ones. In an interview with CNN’s wolf Blitzer, Trump said there’s “very little disruption” and that the violence is conjured up by the press.

“If one person gets up and starts shouting and the police walks that person out, they try and make it like it’s a violent thing,” Trump said. “It’s not violent. It’s a protester that stands up or probably a disruptor, because I think they’re sent there by people on the other side. But there’s no violence, nobody’s been hurt.”

Perhaps Trump forgot about his rally in Birmingham, Alabama in November when a group of his supporters, who were white, attacked an African American protester who disrupted his speech.

According to Trump, it’s not his fault. It’s the fault of the “other side,” specifically Democrat Bernie Sanders, who he accused of organizing the protest in Chicago. In response, Sanders called Trump a “pathological liar.”

When he’s in front of the camera — and he’s speaking in front of viewers across the United States who may or may not support him — Trump says he does not “condone violence.” At a rally he almost encourages his supporters to use violence to keep detractors in check. During a Feb. 1 rally, he told supporters if they saw anyone who is about to throw tomatoes, to “knock the crap out of them.”

In February, as a protester was being escorted out of a rally he said he’d like to “punch the guy in the face.”

Trump doesn’t believe that his words, which many view as xenophobic, racist and fear-mongering have created a toxic environment at his rallies that stir people’s emotions while his snide comments and insults also illicit a negative response from detractors. He may not be directly condoning violence, but he’s allowing it to happen at his rallies.

During his March 12 rally in Dayton, Ohio, a man jumped the security barrier and rushed the stage. Trump’s security and Secret Service agents were able to detain the individual though he says he “was ready for him.”

What if more protestors had gotten past the barrier, made it to the stage but Trump’s security couldn’t push them back? What if someone, one of Trump’s supporters or a protestor, had a loaded gun and fired it into the crowd? What if the bullet hit someone, a protestor or supporter, or Trump himself?

As an American citizen, Trump is allowed to say whatever he wants, no matter who it offends or hurts. But if he continues down the path he’s on, the violence at his rallies is only going to escalate and someone is going to end up seriously hurt.

Al Stover can be reached at


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