No public appearance of Donald Trump is free from controversy. Throngs of supporters have been appearing to support the President. Throngs of protesters have been showing up to make their views known, too. The two opposing forces are often met by throngs of police, and they’re doing everything in their power to keep the peace.
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And sometimes that means they get a bit violent themselves. In Phoenix last night, anti-Donald-Trump protests turned ugly. After the President gave his address, the crowds in the streets became unruly. Police responded with teargas.
One protester even took a direct hit from a pepper ball. The powder-filled projectile struck the man in the groin and he went down hard.
Just moments earlier he had kicked a teargas canister and thrown it back at the police. To keep him away, an officer shot him with the pepper ball. It is hard to tell if the shot was intentional. Pepper balls are meant to pop on the ground in front of protesters, covering them with the irritating powder. This shot took the man down, momentarily.
“A guy just got shot with a rubber bullet,” said one host. The other went silent for a moment. “So… er… yeah, the officers are not, are not messing around at all,” the host concluded.
Inside the arena, President Trump was trying hard to characterize the protest outside as minimal. More than once he noted that a handful of protesters had shown up in Phoenix. Others estimate the crowd to have been in the thousands.
And the police response seemed justified. Many of the police had to face rocks and bottles being thrown by the crowd.
The protesters were there, despite the heat. At the time of the speech it was still over 100 degrees in Phoenix. All told, three people were arrested and two officers had to be treated for heat exhaustion. As many as 56 protesters were treated for heat exhaustion, and 12 were hospitalized.
The Daily Mail reports that crowds of protesters were expected to have numbered more than 7,000. “Some 7,400 people had indicated that they plan to show their disgust for the president, via RSVPs on two Facebook advertisements for anti-Trump rallies.” Nowhere near that many showed up.
Inside, a group of more than 8,000 had gathered for to hear the President talk.
Some of those who showed up for the event were armed, as has become common. They kept their distance, though, and were not involved in any of the more turbulent skirmishes.