City prepares, reacts to Trump’s rally in downtown Phoenix
By Staff, Cronkite News | Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017
PHOENIX – One downtown Phoenix group estimated 25,000 people will converge in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday – both to support and oppose – President Donald Trump at his rally. He plans to appear at 7 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Activists, businesses and law enforcement have spent the day preparing for the visit. Follow Cronkite News to stay updated on the latest coverage.
Video by Courtney Mally
Trump supporters arrive hours early to prepare for rally
Trump supporters draped in American flags, wearing “Make America great again” hats and sporting Trump T-shirts waited patiently in a line winding around the Phoenix Convention Center hours before the doors opened at 4 p.m.
Some used umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun while Boy Scouts sold icy bottles of water. A woman held aloft a sign saying, “Trump won. Go ahead and cry.”
The rally, scheduled for 7 p.m., will be Trump’s first visit to Arizona since becoming president.
As temperatures reached more than 100 degrees Tuesday afternoon, supporters and protesters lined up, some lounging on lawn chairs, with water and plenty of snacks. Phoenix police officers monitored the streets on foot and motorcycles.
The Trump supporters were cheerful, occasionally shouting “USA! USA!” or “Build the wall.”
There was some back and forth with protesters. One Trump supporter said “liberal here” when talking with one man. Another man shouted across the street from the line. When a Trump supporter offered the protester a soda, the protester answered with an expletive.
Mike Tucker, the Trump supporter who offered the soda, later shouted, “I’d like to have a conversation with you” but was ignored.
Tucker, 48, said in an interview he believed there is a misunderstanding about the president.
“I don’t think he is getting a fair shake in our country at this moment,” Tucker said. “We are here for the president of the United States fighting for the American people.”
Tucker said, “I’m out here showing I’m a true American. I’m not racist. I’m not all these things, all these labels that people are putting on me. I’m an American who believes this president is doing right for the American people.”
Peter Tavany, an Arizona resident who said he was “under 18,” said he is a Libertarian and came to the rally because “I just want to see the president.”
Several Trump protesters watched from across the road. A motorist slowly driving past gestured and yelled obscenities, throwing water at the Trump supporters. Police began to closely monitor the crowd shortly after the incident.
Trump, who visited Arizona seven times when he was a candidate, had hinted he might pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But a White House statement Tuesday said the president will not issue a pardon on Arpaio’s criminal contempt of court conviction.
“I think that he is going to say he is a good guy,” said Dante Gazzaniga, 20, before the statement was released. “I do believe that he will end up pardoning him.”
The Los Angeles resident said such a decision would be “extremely divisive” – many people on the right wanted him to be pardoned, and many people on the left felt like it was “racial profiling.”
Gene Huber, 47, of Florida, said he stands behind the president: “Whatever the decision it is, I’m with the president.”
Reported by Shawna Truong
Video by Thalia Varelas, Jackie Lopez and Bailee Moore
Local protesters gather to make posters for Trump’s rally
Songbird Coffee & Tea House in downtown Phoenix hosted community members to make posters prior to Trump’s rally Tuesday night.
Tonya Arroyo created a Facebook group, No Hate on Our Streets Phoenix, to connect with people who share her same views. The group promotes “peace, love, acceptance and tolerance,” and it wanted to send a message to those who foster hate.
“We won’t let Nazis, the KKK or the alt-right” take Phoenix streets over, according to the Facebook page.
She said she never expected the group to reach more than 1,400 people.
Before noon, about a half dozen people had shown up to the coffee shop. They created posters with slogans such as “Stop Hate” and “Hate doesn’t make America great.” The group provided posterboard, markers and bottled water for those who planned to join protests.
Reported by Bailee Moore, Jackie Lopez and Thalia Varelas
Video by Stephen Sydnor
Confederate monument symbolizes community tension
Phoenix native Jason “Bullman” James Davis sat on a shaded bench Tuesday in front of the memorial to Arizona Confederate troops at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza.
“This is a confederate monument, and we were a confederate,” Davis said. “I just want to make sure I’m ground zero for anything that happens to it.”
Davis said he wasn’t part of any organization, but he wanted to ensure that nobody messed with the memorial.
Earlier this month, vandals spray painted the memorial, according to azcentral.com.
Across the nation, Confederate monuments and memorials have become a flashpoint for protest in recent weeks, especially after racially charged violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump’s Phoenix visit Tuesday heightened tensions in the community, with protests planned throughout the downtown area.
Davis pointed to text on the monument that reads, “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”
“That’s important,” he said.
Leonard Clark, an Iraq war veteran and substitute teacher, approached the memorial to stream a Facebook Live video opposing these memorials in Phoenix.
The monument was constructed in 1961 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“In 1961, they put this up,” he said. “There were no confederate soldiers who were killed here on these grounds.”
Clark spoke about his goals to remove confederate monuments and names from public buildings and highways.
“If the government won’t authorize it, I will come out here with a sledgehammer and I myself will break down this Confederate monument of hate with my bare fists and a sledgehammer,” Clark said.
“I’ll kick that dude straight in the [groin] if he touches it,” Davis responded.
Reported by Tanner Stechnij
Video by Nikita Naik and Shawna Truong
ASU moves some downtown classes, officials ‘working closely’ to ensure safety
In an email to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon, officials at Arizona State University said the ASU administration, campus police and city of Phoenix police were “working closely” together to ensure the safety of everyone in the downtown area, where thousands of students live and attend classes.
The downtown campus is just blocks from the Phoenix Convention Center, where Trump’s rally will be held Thursday night. Classes usually held at the Mercado were moved to other buildings Tuesday afternoon.
Map by Tynin Fries
“As you move through downtown today, please be aware of your surroundings, cognizant of others’ actions and patient as you move from place to place amid congestion and traffic,” according to an email from Executive Vice Presidents Mark Searle and Morgan R. Olsen.
“It sucks for the traffic thing because I have to take the bus,” said ASU law student Jake Rapp, 27. He said he mostly worried about traffic, but isn’t discounting that “(Trump) seems to do stuff, things happen and it’s not what anyone expects. I’m just hoping that it’s him talking to his people, he leaves and nothing crazy happens.”
Anh Dao, an 18-year-old nursing student, said, “I feel like it’s not super safe. But I don’t think there’s much to be worried about because there is police everywhere.”
Reported by Chelsea Rae Ybanez
Video by Monica Simpson, Nkiruka Omeronye, and Kara Carlson
Some downtown businesses close early, others opt to keep doors open
Some businesses in downtown Phoenix took extra precautions Tuesday.
Austin Potenza, from the law firm of May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, said his office in Chase Tower opted to close early because of the rally. He said much of the building, including Chase Bank, will do the same.
“Our people will get stuck here if we don’t close early,” Potenza said. “No point in having a lot more congestion for people to get stuck in.”
At CityScape, Chipotle, Starbucks and Pizza Studio also decided to close early. A Starbucks spokeswoman said in an email that both of its downtown locations will have reduced hours to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
Mark Stanfield, the general manager at Pizza Studio, said he also was concerned about the safety and well-being of employees. He said many of the workers use public transportation, which could get congested, or they park at local garages, which may close.
Todd Ebner, a Pizza Studio customer, said the restaurant made a good choice.
“I don’t think anything is going to happen, but stay on the safe side,” Ebner said. “It’s their livelihood.”
Jason Jantzen, owner of Ahipoke Bowl at CityScape, said the restaurant just opened Monday, and he took into account how much work employees put into getting it running.
“We planned on being open this week and just because people are protesting or exercising their freedom of speech, which we totally support, we’re not going to close because of it,” Jantzen said.
Ruth Hale, a Sun City resident, planned to attend the rally. She agreed with the closures: “It’s not a bad idea in case opposition groups decide they want to make trouble.”
Reported by Kara Carlson and Nkiruka Omeronye
Video by Kara Carlson
Entrepreneurs sell goods outside convention center
Nick Towe, 20, came from Oklahoma to sell buttons and T-shirts outside the Phoenix Convention Center.
He and his father, Chad Towe, 48, travelled across the country during the 2016 campaign. Nick Towe said they sold goods at 75 Trump rallies and visited 38 states.
The pair also mentioned they sold merchandise for other candidates, including Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders.
Nick Towe said some candidates made more money than others. “Republican ones make more money … (we) didn’t make money from Hillary.”
Nick Towe said business was slow early in the afternoon, but he was waiting to see if business would pick up. He said sometimes, 90 percent of the profit comes when people are leaving an event.
A group of local Boy Scouts also took advantage of the visit. They were providing bottled water to the crowd to raise money for a friend involved in an Eagle Scout project to provide dental supplies for people in Ethiopia.
Reported by Angelica Cabral
Video by Monica Sampson
Grijalva, community groups denounce Trump rally
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, on Tuesday said if President Donald Trump pardons former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it will “deepen the divisions that are already deep enough in the country.”
Grijalva joined community groups to denounce Tuesday’s rally. Trump told Fox News last week he is considering pardoning Arpaio, and the groups feared the president would make an announcement Tuesday.
Arpaio is a fervent Trump fan who was convicted of criminal contempt of court in July for violating a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos in traffic stops.
“It would absolutely be a miscarriage of justice,” said Laila Ikram of the Council on American and Islamic Relations. But if Trump does issue a pardon, Ikram said the groups would continue peaceful protests and encourage Arizona residents to register to vote.
The community groups also voiced their concerns about Trump’s reaction to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed and others were injured during counter demonstrations of a white nationalist march.
“He’s insulting our community,” said Eduardo Sainz, deputy director of Mi Familia Vota’s Arizona chapter.
The other groups at the news conference included Living United for Change Arizona, Arizona League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Arizona Coalition for Change.
Reported by Shayla Hyde
Video by Holly Bernstein