Friday evening’s Donald Trump protests ended in a canceled Chicago rally (plus one in Cincinnati). Hundreds of people caused a ruckus within the venue while thousands more gathered outside, which made for many incredible photos stuffed at the end of this post. In the end, two officers were injured and five people were arrested. Those numbers seem unbelievably low for anyone who watched the protests live on cable news. Hundreds of folks also received citations, but the end achievement — to stop Trump from speaking — was unlocked. We’ve never seen anything like this during a presidential race (not from a live, cable news perspective), and this is only primary season.
Some would say that Chicago accomplished what Trump’s fellow Republicans have failed to do, but talking heads mourned the death of free speech. Trump appeared to agree. He downplayed the ongoing violence of his rallies while speaking on the phone with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. The business mogul bemoaned how he couldn’t speak directly to voters before Tuesday’s big-state primaries. He’s used to perpetual protests but not on this level:
“We’re doing others, and up until this point we’ve had no problems, but this is a little bit of a different circumstance, and it’s a little sad that you can’t have a rally in a major city in this country. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?”
Trump believes that protesters aren’t really mad about his platform but about the terrible economy. Well, these folks look angry at more than money.
Meanwhile, Trump’s rivals seized the opportunity to discard their make-nice debate act. Head Republican rival Ted Cruz directly blames Trump for his campaign’s violence and said Friday’s mess is a logical consequence:
“In any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, you create an environment that only encourages that sort of nasty discourse.”
Bernie Sanders dropped a shade-filled tweet that was a direct blow at how Trump divides people instead of uniting them:
This later tweet wasn’t veiled at all. Direct shot at Trump:
Marco Rubio hopped on the phone with CNN’s Don Lemon to condemn Trump’s unpresidential rhetoric:
“The tone and tenor of Donald Trump’s rallies over the last few months has been disturbing to a lot of people. If you’re running for president, you have to understand that that kind of rhetoric from a president — or a major presidential candidate — has ramifications. The images that the world must be looking at now must seem to them like our republic is fracturing.”
Rubio also spoke to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly to say this is all Trump’s fault:
“America is better than this. We don’t have to tear each other apart. [Trump] does bear responsibility for other things that have happened at his events.”
John Kasich tweeted a statement about Trump’s “seeds of division” that have finally blossomed into ugly violence:
Here are more photos from Chicago. Yes, this is America in 2016.