CLEVELAND, Ohio—Following disruptive protests that caused Republican front-runner Donald Trump to cancel his Chicago rally Friday night and a Secret Service scare in Dayton Saturday morning, the campaign asked attendees at Trump’s Cleveland event to not “harm or touch” any protester, but instead to chant the New York billionaire’s last name.
A voice over the PA system announced instructions to the crowd waiting in the massive I-X center for Trump on how to react to protesters:
Mr. Trump supports the first amendment just as much as he supports the second amendment. However, some people have taken advantage of Mr. Trump’s hospitality by choosing to disrupt his rallies to promote their own political message. While they certainly have the right to free speech, this is a private event paid for by Mr. Trump.
The announcement continued, “We have provided a safe protest area outside the venue for all protesters. If a protester starts demonstrating in the area around you, please, do not harm or touch the protester. This is a peaceful rally. In order to notify the law enforcement officers of the location of the protester, please hold a rally sign over your head and start chanting, ‘Trump, Trump, Trump.’ Ask the people around you to do likewise until the officer removes the protester officer. Thank you. For helping us make America Great Again.”
It did not take long for the crowd to deploy the chanting and pointing tactic. Minutes later, at least three different protests broke out. “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump….” The crowd yelled during each disruption as law enforcement moved in to make their removals. (RELATED: Trump Cancels Chicago Event Amid Chaos, Safety Concerns)
“Troublemakers. They’re Bernie fans…These are Bernie’s people. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet Bernie in the finals…get him out, get him out,” Trump told his fans as more protesters were removed from the I-X center hangar. (RELATED: Secret Service Swarms As Protester Attempts To Take Stage At Trump Rally [VIDEO])
Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders’ campaign released a statement answering Trump’s charge about the protesters representing Sanders campaign:
“As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests.”
The statement continued, “What caused the protests at Trump’s rally is a candidate that has promoted hatred and division against Latinos, Muslims, women, and people with disabilities, and his birther attacks against the legitimacy of President Obama.”
“What caused the violence at Trump’s rally is a campaign whose words and actions have encouraged it on the part of his supporters . He recently said of a protester, ‘I want to punch him in the face.’ Another time Trump yearned for the old days when the protester would have been punched and “carried out on a stretcher.’ Then just a few days ago a female reporter apparently was assaulted by his campaign manager.”
Following the event, Trump protesters and supporters clashed outside of the IX-Center, but no violence erupted.