Trump rally to be held in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's hometown
Mar. 18, 2016
PHOENIX (AP) — Donald Trump is bringing his get-tough message on illegal immigration to metro Phoenix, where voters have more than a decade of pent-up anger about the problem and protesters plan to line up outside the event to denounce the GOP front-runner.
The real estate developer will hold a rally Saturday morning at a park in Fountain Hills, an affluent Phoenix suburb that's the hometown of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The lawman is a Trump ally known for immigration crackdowns that made him politically popular, but they were eventually barred by the courts.
Hundreds of immigrant rights advocates who have opposed the sheriff's tactics plan to line up outside the Trump event. They will be joined by members of a union that represents hotel workers and military veterans who say Trump is using hateful speech toward Muslims.
The event comes a week after protesters forced Trump to cancel a campaign event in Chicago. Earlier in the week, a white Trump supporter was caught on video punching a younger black protester as police led the protester out of a rally in North Carolina. The supporter, later charged with assault, told an interviewer the next time he confronted a protester, "We might have to kill him."
Francisca Porchas, organizing director for the Puente Movement, a civil-rights group in Phoenix, said her group sees Trump's views on immigration as being the same as the sheriff's.
"We want the Trump rise -- the Trump effect -- to end," Porchas said.
In an interview, Arpaio said he isn't concerned about violence erupting at the park but that his officers are able to handle such situations. The town where the event is being held doesn't have its own police department, and Arpaio's office provides police protection there.
"If they violate the law, they will go to the tents," Arpaio said, referring to his practice of jailing people outdoors in surplus military tents. "I will have my vans out there to transport people who violate the law."
Countless protests against the sheriff have gone off over the years without any violence. But a 2010 protest outside a sheriff's jail complex turned dangerous when a small group of anarchists and police officers clashed. The Phoenix Police Department, which worked security at the event, said protesters threw water bottles at officers, who responded by using pepper spray on protesters.
Rob McElwain, who has held a protest against the sheriff on downtown street corners every Friday for the last seven years, said he won't attend the rally and will instead join other protesters outside a convention center where Trump will be doing a TV appearance.
"That's not something we want to walk into," McElwain said. "This is almost a provocation situation where Arpaio has jurisdiction."