(PHOENIX) — A day of noisy but largely peaceful protests of President Donald Trump’s speech in Phoenix turned unruly as police fired pepper spray at crowds after someone apparently lobbed rocks and bottles at officers.
A cloudy haze enveloped the night sky Tuesday outside the convention center where Trump had just wrapped up his speech as protesters and police clashed. People fled the scene coughing as the disturbance unfolded.
“People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police. They also dispersed some gas in the area,” Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said, adding that officers responded with pepper spray to “disperse the crowd.”
Minor scuffles and shouting matches erupted earlier between protesters and Trump’s supporters on Tuesday with authorities on high alert as thousands of people lined up in the triple-digit heat to attend his first political rally since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Phoenix police kept most members of the two opposing groups behind barricades and apart on separate sides of the street. As a police helicopter hovered overhead, officers wearing riot gear and carrying rifles sauntered through the lane between the sides.
Local authorities were vigilant in the aftermath of the deadly protests in Virginia and the president’s comments last week about both sides having blame for violence at the white supremacist rally. Mayor Greg Stanton had unsuccessfully called on the president to not hold the rally here so soon after the trouble in Charlottesville.
“Toxic Trump,” read one protest sign held up to the president’s supporters streaming into the Phoenix Convention…
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