Update 1:21 p.m. EST: Trump also blamed Bernie Sanders' supporters for the violence at Friday night's Chicago rally. He even threatened to send his own supporters to disrupt Sanders' events. Trump tweeted, "Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren't told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!"
Republican front-runner Donald Trump also said that he has told his staff to "look into" paying legal fees for a man who allegedly punched a protester at a rally. Last week, a video began circulating that showed a 78-year-old white Trump supporter — named John McGraw — hitting a 26-year-old Black protester at a March 9 rally in North Carolina. According to The Washington Post, McGraw has been charged with assault and disorderly conduct; he is due in court next month. When asked whether he planned to pay for the man's legal fees on NBC's Meet The Press, Trump said, "I've actually instructed my people to look into it, yes." Trump added, “[McGraw] obviously loves his country. And maybe he doesn't like seeing what's happening to the country. I want to see the full tape. But I don't condone violence.” Trump has openly promised his supporters that he would pay the legal fees of those who fight back against protesters. "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for their legal fees," he said at a rally in February. Critics attribute this rhetoric to the increase in violence at Trump events.
Update March 12, 2:55 p.m. EST: Donald Trump has released a statement about last night’s canceled Chicago rally. A short press release on the campaign website said that the candidate had “received great credit from everyone” for canceling the event. The statement also calls the response “very good management and leadership under great pressure” and asserts that the Chicago Police Department were informed of everything before it happened. Police have denied that they recommended canceling the event. Videos of the protests outside the Trump rally show what appear to be conflicts between the police and protesters. A video taken by CBS reporter Sopan Deb shows a handcuffed, bloody man on the ground. Deb was later detained and charged with resisting arrest, according to CBS News. The demonstration against Trump continued today at a rally in Ohio, where a disturbance in the crowd caused four Secret Service agents to jump up on stage and form a wall around the candidate. Police told NBC News that a man tried to jump the security barrier and may have thrown a bottle at the candidate. According to Chief Michael Etter of the Dayton Airport Police Department, the suspect has been charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic.
Update 11:15 p.m. EST: Protests continued after the event, with demonstrators taking to the streets. The police arrived and tried to disperse the crowd with mixed success.
Video appeared to show a police officer suffering an injury, although it's unclear how the injury was sustained.
The police released the following statement to Buzzfeed News reporter Jim Dalrymple II, but did not comment on any injuries or arrests.
Though Trump's camp says it cancelled the event out of safety concerns, the Chicago Police Department denies that there was an issue. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press that adequate officers were on hand. Guglielmi also says that there was no recommendation by the Chicago or university police that Trump should cancel the event. He says Trump never arrived at the arena.
Original story, published on March 11 at 9 p.m. EST, follows.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump called off a planned rally in Chicago today after protesters flooded the University of Illinois at Chicago arena in which it was supposed to take place. Dozens of UIC students, faculty, and staff asked the school not to host the rally, according to the AP. The scene quickly grew out of the organizers' control. Opposing groups chanted at each other. One man was able to get behind the podium where he ripped up a campaign sign before he could be taken away. Trump never showed his face inside the rally, telling MSNBC in a telephone interview that “we did the right thing” in cancelling the event because he didn’t “want to see people get hurt.” Trump, in the past, has encouraged violence against protesters. On February 1, Trump was warned by security that an individual could have brought tomatoes to an event in Iowa. Addressing the crowd, Trump said, "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them...Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees." "It's anger in the country," he told MSNBC tonight. "I don't think it's directed at me. Just what's been going on for years." Protesters chanted “We’re gonna be alright,” the chorus to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” after the news broke that the rally would not be taking place.