Violent clashes erupt as Trump drops Chicago rally for security concerns
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Violent clashes erupt as Trump drops Chicago rally for security concerns

Supporters, opponents of GOP candidate scuffle after Illinois U. event canceled when protesters crowded out venue

A demonstrator is removed by Chicago police during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. Trump canceled one of his signature rallies on Friday, calling off the event in Chicago due to safety concerns after protesters packed into the arena where it was to take place. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP)
A demonstrator is removed by Chicago police during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. Trump canceled one of his signature rallies on Friday, calling off the event in Chicago due to safety concerns after protesters packed into the arena where it was to take place. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump canceled one of his signature rallies on Friday, calling off the event in Chicago due to safety concerns after protesters packed into the arena where it was to take place.

There were isolated physical confrontations between some members of the crowd after the event was canceled, as well as verbal sparring as fans and foes of the controversial front-runner anticipated his arrival.

The announcement that the billionaire businessman would postpone the rally until another day led a large portion of the crowd inside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion to break out into raucous cheers. Meanwhile, supporters of the candidate started chanting “We want Trump! We want Trump!”

There was no sign of Trump inside the arena on the college campus, where dozens of UIC faculty and staff had petitioned university administrators to cancel the rally. They cited concerns it would create a “hostile and physically dangerous environment” for students.

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump heckles demonstrators before the start of a rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump heckles demonstrators before the start of a rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

Before the announcement that the event wouldn’t take place, a handful of intense verbal clashes took place between Trump supporters and protesters as the crowd waited for his arrival. For the first time during his White House bid, the crowd appeared to be an equal mix of those eager to cheer on the real estate mogul and those overtly opposed to his candidacy.

When one African-American protester was escorted out before the event started, the crowd erupted into chants of “Let them stay!”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Veronica Kowalkowsky, an 18-year-old Trump supporter, said before the event started that she had no ill will toward the protesters — but didn’t think they felt the same way.

“I feel a lot of hate,” she said. “I haven’t said anything bad to anyone.”

Hours before the event was scheduled to start, hundreds of people lined up outside the arena at the University of Illinois at Chicago — a civil and immigrant rights organizing hub with large minority student populations. Trump backers were separated from an equally large crowd of anti-Trump protesters by a heavy police presence and barricades.

Some Trump supporters walking into the area chanted, “USA! USA!” and “Illegal is illegal.” One demonstrator shouted back, “Racist!”

Chicago community activist Quo Vadis said hundreds of protesters had positioned themselves in groups around the arena, and that they intend to demonstrate right after Trump takes the stage. Their goal, he said, is “for Donald to take the stage and to completely interrupt him. The plan is to shut Donald Trump all the way down.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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