The political unrest surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is triggering riots and violence that could last until the November election.
Several police officers were injured when protestors tried to storm a Trump rally this week, throwing rocks and breaking windows. Police in riot gear tossed smoke bombs into the mob outside the Albuquerque convention center, where Trump was delivering a speech.
“This was not a protest, this was a riot,” attorney Doug Antoon, who was inside the center, told the Associated Press. “These are hate groups.”
The protestors were carrying banners that read: “Trump is a fascist” and “we’ve had enough.” Some Trump supporters say the protesters are paid to do what they’re doing.
Protestors also threw objects at Trump supporters, burned Trump T-shirts and charged police officers on horseback, The Albuquerque Journal reported. Rioters did not get inside the arena, but rocks flew through the building’s windows.
“Appears that most of the @realDonaldTrump protestors have left & remaining contingent is only looking to cause trouble & be destructive,” the Albuquerque police tweeted.
Trump tweeted Wednesday, “The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!”
Chaos Elsewhere, Too
The chaos in Albuquerque was not the first, nor the worst violent outbreak at a Trump event.
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On April 29, a mob smashed the windows on one police car and tried to turn another police vehicle over in Anaheim, California, The Los Angeles Times reported. The rioters were protesting a Trump appearance in Orange County. At least five police cars were damaged and one officer was hit by a rock.
Some protesters also threw rocks and debris at motorists and tried to block an entrance to State Route 55 near the convention center.
“I knew this was going to happen,” protestor Daniel Lujan said. “It was going to be a riot. He deserves what he gets.”
“This is the anger people have against Trump,” said Jose Cruz, 21. “It’s not because he’s white — it’s because of what he’s said.”
But despite the protests – or perhaps partially because of them – Trump’s poll numbers are improving. He trailed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 11 points on March 23 in the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls, but now is tied with her in the average, and has led in three of the most recent five surveys.
Protesters Will Continue To ‘Escalate Their Response’
Black Lives Matter activist Cat Brooks told The Guardian that “A lot of people want to dismiss us as troublemakers and rabble-rousers, but what you’re dealing with are highly sophisticated, very grounded, very committed organizers with a strong vision of what they want the future of this country to look like.”
Protestors plan to block roads, freeway exits and parking lots, Brooks said. She predicted that protestors will continue to try and disrupt Trump with bullhorns and publicity stunts.
“We have friends and allies all over the country,” San Francisco activist Linda Capato told The Guardian. “The more Trump engages in this hateful rhetoric, the more people will feel compelled to escalate their response.”
Of course, rioting and violence is not confined to Republican events. The Nevada state Democratic convention on May 15 degenerated into a brawl between supporters of US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Hillary Clinton backers. The Washington Post reported that at least one person was injured when Sanders supporters, who were angry at a vote count, tried to storm a stage.
Some Democrats are now afraid that violence could be repeated at the Democratic National Convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia, MSNBC reported.
Authorities in Cleveland are preparing for riots when that city hosts the Republican National Convention July 18-21.
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