FOUNTAIN HILLS – About 100 protesters trying to block Donald Trump’s supporters from reaching his presidential campaign rally in Fountain Hills blocked Shea Boulevard on Saturday, disrupting traffic for about two hours before law enforcement could remove them.
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The Puente Human Rights Movement claimed itself as inciters of the protest on their Facebook page, joined by Mijente, a Latino activist group. Carlos Garcia, the executive director of the group, released a statement on Mijente’s website.
“In Arizona we’ve heard Trump’s hate before and we know where it gets us,” Garcia wrote. “Trump’s ugly rhetoric is being turned into policy proposals as we speak that threaten the wholeness of our families and the safety of our communities. All people of conscience have to unite to stop it.”
Protesters remained mostly nonviolent, chanting in both English and Spanish.
The blockade began at approximately 9:30 a.m. and lasted until tow trucks arrived and removed the protesters’ vehicles at approximately 11:15 a.m. In all, three arrests were made and two cars were towed.
Multiple protests broke out throughout the day in Fountain Hills before, during and after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally in the town Saturday.
Angry rally-goers – with ages ranging from young children to the elderly – berated anti-Trump protesters with slurs and obscenities as they passed.
One 18-year-old protester named Zane, who declined to give his last name, was harassed by angry counter-protesters both in town and in the line.
“I was kind of mobbed a little bit earlier by, like, everybody,” Zane said. “It’s kind of nice to have a little more people around so that, that kind of discourages mobbing me and just yelling at me, calling me derogatory, unqualified names.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who took part in Trump’s Fountain Hills rally, told the crowd that three protesters had been arrested.
“We will not be intimidated by these protesters,” Arpaio told Fox News later in the day. “Especially in a town that I run.”
Some citizens felt the same way, insinuating they might take matters into their own hands if things got worse for them personally.
Joshua Feuerstein, a Fountain Hills resident, said the protesters had their rights, but he knew his as well.
“I’m using my Second Amendment right to carry and bear arms,” Feuerstein told Cronkite News. “So right here in the middle of this violent situation, if something starts happening – I ain’t worried.”
Fortunately, the action did not escalate to that point as no arrests were made at the time for violent behavior. Three arrests were made in total.
Though most of the protesting was done with no physical violence by either side, as Trump was finishing at the podium a group of his fans were fed up with those not on their side.
Each side locked arms and walked toward the other, creating a collision. In the midst of the confrontation, one counter-protester grabbed a sign and ripped it up in front of their opposition.
Trump events have gained notoriety for its protests. A recent event in Chicago was cancelled because of violent outbreaks before the event.
Arizona’s presidential preference election is Tuesday.