As you've no doubt heard, Donald Trump had a rally scheduled at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Friday night, which was canceled after protesters were met with violent pushback from his supporters.
Minutes after Mr. Trump was to have taken to a podium on the campus of a large, diverse public university just west of downtown, an announcer suddenly pronounced the event over before it had begun. Hundreds of protesters, who had promised to be a visible presence here and filled several sections of the arena, let out an elated, unstopping cheer. Mr. Trump's supporters, many of whom had waited hours to see the Republican front-runner, seemed stunned and slowly filed out in anger.The University of Illinois at Chicago is not only a public university with a diverse student population; its campus sits in a part of the city whose population is comprised by people who are routinely the targets of Trump's hostile and marginalizing rhetoric. Chicago has a vibrant activist community that is currently mobilized against racist and authoritarian police brutality (as but one very visible example). Trump can't have been surprised that his campaign and his aggressive rhetoric would not be welcomed with open arms by Chicago.
...In the hours before the event, inside the 9,500-seat arena, Mr. Trump's backers were energized. Some dressed in outfits to match his, and chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!" as they waited.
But the situation grew tense as the size of the protest crowd became clear, and as some yelled anti-Trump slogans and skirmished with the supporters. Three men in T-shirts that read, "Muslims United Against Trump," departed early on, delighting the pro-Trump crowd.
Outside, a tense standoff mounted as well. ...A large group opposing Mr. Trump merrily taunted the people entering the stadium with shouts of "Donald Trump has got to go" and signs caricaturing Mr. Trump as a fascist with a Hitler mustache. (In one only-in-Chicago insult, a protester carried a sign reading, "Trump puts ketchup on his hot dog.") And then, suddenly, an announcement declared the event "over" and repeated it several times.
...Arguments and small skirmishes broke out along the streets. At one point, the police rushed in, separating people.
At least one man was hit on the head with a police baton, witnesses said, and blood could be seen coming from a gash on his face. A woman, also bloodied, was led away by police.
"They got the job done," Vickie Deanda, 54, an accountant from Chicago, said of the demonstrators. "Someone has to object to this hatred. The people inside have a right to be there. But we have a right to be here, too."
And yet he has no understanding of what's happening in the city, blaming "our communist friend" Bernie Sanders and his supporters for shutting down his rally. Although some of the protesters were indeed Sanders supporters, that's hardly the whole story of what happened in Chicago and why.
On Saturday, at a rally in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump said he wants police to start arresting protesters: "I hope these guys get thrown into a jail. They'll never do it again. It'll destroy their record. They'll have to explain to mom and dad why they have a police record and why they can't get a job. And you know what? I'm going to start pressing charges against all of these people. And then we won't have a problem."
Sure. Never mind that they have a constitutional right to protest.
And protest they did. His Kansas City event was repeatedly interrupted by protesters: "Trump struggled to complete his sentences as dozens of protesters shouted criticisms and were escorted out by security officers. Outside, hundreds more protesters lined the streets and loudly chanted. Kansas City Police officials said they twice used pepper spray to control the crowds and made two arrests. Protesters and journalists posted videos online showing police spraying large canisters of pepper spray on protesters, once to break up a fight and a second time when a line of protesters joined arms and started walking into a closed-off street, pushing into mounted police."
Meanwhile, both Sanders and Hillary Clinton laid the blame at Trump's feet, saying that he's inciting violence with his inflammatory, bigoted rhetoric.
Though Clinton also released a deeply problematic statement in which she appeared to assign blame to protesters, as well. NOPE! However, she later went off on Trump during an Ohio Democratic Party dinner last night, making clear the blame is his: "Donald Trump is running a cynical campaign of hate and fear, for one reason: to get votes. He's encouraging violence and chaos to get votes. He is pitting Americans against each other to get votes. After stoking every fire he can think of, Trump encourages his supporters to beat up anybody who disagrees with him—literally punch them in the face—and then offers to pay their legal bills."
The responsibility lies squarely with Donald Trump, whose policies and language reflect an appeal to white insecurity about waning white supremacy. He is, and has been all along, a dangerous candidate, and the violence that is now endemic to his campaign was the inevitable result of our collective unwillingness to see how dangerous he was all along.
And despite his protestations that he doesn't want to encourage violence, he isn't slowing down. After accusing Sanders supporters of inciting violence in Chicago, he tweeted: "Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren't told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!"
This is not the behavior of a person who should be considered a viable candidate for president.