Trump’s rally attracts thousands of protesters to Phoenix

PHOENIX — Police in Phoenix said they used pepper spray and pepper balls to disperse crowds of protesters following a rally held by President Donald Trump on Tuesday night.

Thousands from across Arizona flocked to downtown Phoenix to protest Trump’s rally, carrying protest essentials — signs, megaphones and water bottles to stay hydrated in the 107-degree weather.

The protests came more than a week after demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, where clashes between white supremacists and counterprotestors turned violent and resulted in one death.

Trump drew widespread condemnation for his response to the clashes, in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence.

“Trump saying people on both sides are to blame was the last straw,” said Eva Spivey, 25, of Avondale, Arizona. “Racism is a one-sided thing.”

While there were some tense back-and-forth moments between protest groups and Trump supporters, a handful of cops acted as a physical barrier.

On the Phoenix Convention Center side of Monroe Street, Trump rally attendees were being ushered into the venue in lines.

On the other side of the street, anti-Trump protesters had put up an inflatable Trump — in a white robe with a Nazi symbol — as well as a giant sign that read “white supremacy will not be pardoned.”

Anti-Trump protesters yelled out chants, including “Shame” and “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

Anna Ruiz, a teacher in the Phoenix Union High School District, said she marched for her undocumented students who were “too afraid.”

“It makes me sad to have to be out here,” she said. “Everybody who lives in this country has rights.”

“I’m here because I’m also gay,” she said. “I’m here because I’m a woman. I’m here because I’m a Democrat. I’m here because I’m a woman. I’m a veteran. I’m a fifth generation Arizonan. I don’t like what’s happened to my state or my country. I’m so ashamed.”

Barry Smith, a Phoenix native, carried a sign that read “Old white men against bigotry.”

“After the election I felt so bad, they look at an old guy like me and think I voted for him,” Smith said. “It’s embarrassing. Everything about him repulses me, and the fact that people are still coming to support him after the racism that’s so blatant.

“There’s nothing in the new message but people are starting to get the message.”

Some had simpler reasons for showing up.

“Somebody had to,” Noni Nez, from Mesa, Arizona, said.