The route was first blocked by a pair of pickup trucks decorated with banners reading “Comb Over Racism: Dump Trump” and “Shut Down Trump.” Dozens of protesters then filled in the roadway, carrying signs reading “Love Trumps Hate” and “Stand Against Racism.” One homemade sign said, “Combat White Supremacy.”
As the trucks were towed away, protesters formed a human wall. Traffic finally resumed after officers began arresting protesters.
Later Saturday afternoon, scores of protesters temporarily blocked the entrance to the Tucson Convention Center, chanting “Shut it down!” and preventing supporters from entering a Trump rally there.
And in New York City, protesters from a wide range of left-leaning organizations organized a roaming protest Saturday targeting two of Trump’s most prominent properties in midtown Manhattan. There were reports that the police used tear gas to prevent a group of protesters from moving past barriers near Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
For yet another weekend, footage of anti-Trump protests is poised to dominate the news. Activists hope these images hurt the billionaire businessman’s chances of becoming the Republican presidential nominee, but many Trump supporters say the pictures will only strengthen their candidate’s popularity ahead of Tuesday’s primary in Arizona and caucuses inUtah.
“It’s a big spectacle,” said Devin Wood, 32, a supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). Wood attended a protest outside Trump’s Friday night rally in Salt Lake City but worries that the real estate mogul benefits from the media coverage the protests prompt. “I think the showman in him thinks any type of news or any type of exposure is going to help. He relishes in seeing this because I think he’s a narcissist and he loves to see this whole hullabaloo just made up about him.”
The anti-Trump blockade in Arizona on Saturday deepened Geneva Arthin’s admiration of Trump. She said she is convinced the same group of protesters has attended each of the candidate’s rallies and is being paid by Trump’s Republican and Democratic opponents.
“They are against Mr. Trump,” said Arthin, 77, who lives in Mesa and has already cast her primary vote for him. “And Mr. Trump is not afraid of them because they are afraid of Trump because they will lose their subsidies.”
As police worked to unblock the highway, several thousand people waited in the sun for Trump to arrive at Fountain Park, known for a fountain that shoots up a tall column of water. News of the blockade popped up on cellphones and spread through the crowd.
The rally began nearly an hour late. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose jurisdiction includes Fountain Hills, introduced Trump and announced that law enforcement had arrested three protesters. Arpaio is a controversial longtime sheriff known for demeaning his prisoners and for using his office to target immigrants in the country illegally and to hasten their deportation. Arpaio has endorsed Trump and has appeared on the campaign trail with him several times.
“We had a little problem — some demonstrators were trying to disrupt,” said Arpaio, as the crowd booed the protesters. “If they think they’re going to intimidate you and the next president of the United States, it’s not going to happen. Not in this town, I’ll tell you right now.” (Courtesy Washington Post)