Monday 23 April 2018

Four held as protests turn unruly after Donald Trump's Phoenix speech

Smoke billows after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. Protests were held against President Donald Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Smoke billows after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. Protests were held against President Donald Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Jacques Billeaud and Clarice Silber

A day of noisy but largely peaceful protests at Donald Trump's speech in Phoenix turned unruly as police fired pepper spray at crowds after rocks and bottles were apparently thrown at officers.

A haze enveloped the night sky as protesters and police clashed outside the convention centre where the president had just wrapped up his speech.

People fled the scene coughing as an officer in a helicopter used a speaker to urge protesters to leave the area.

Officers responded with pepper spray to break up the crowd after people threw rocks and bottles and dispersed gas, Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said.

REFILE - CLARIFYING CAPTION Pro-Trump supporters face off with anti-Trump protesters outside a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
REFILE - CLARIFYING CAPTION Pro-Trump supporters face off with anti-Trump protesters outside a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker

Four people were arrested on charges related to the protest, and one was arrested on an unrelated warrant, Police Chief Jeri Williams said. Two officers were treated for heat exhaustion, she added.

Authorities were on high alert as thousands lined up in powerful heat to attend Mr Trump's first political rally since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Protesters filled the streets of central Phoenix and engaged in shouting matches and a few minor scuffles with Trump supporters, but events were generally peaceful.

By the time Mr Trump took the stage, police said there had been no arrests or major incidents.

Phoenix police kept most members of the two opposing groups behind barricades and apart on separate sides of the street.

Local authorities were vigilant after deadly protests in Virginia and the president's comments last week about both sides having blame for violence at the white supremacist rally. Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton had unsuccessfully called on the president to not hold the rally there so soon after the trouble in Charlottesville.

The outdoor temperature remained in the late 30s as the rally began and Phoenix Fire Department, said at least 48 people were treated for heat-related problems, most for dehydration. Two were adult women who were taken to hospital for further evaluation, he said.

Press Association

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