Thousands of people took to streets in Phoenix, Arizona, to protest President Donald Trump and his controversial comments blaming “both sides” — meaning the white supremacists and anti-racist protesters — for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The crowd of anti-Trump protesters convened outside the Phoenix Convention Center, where the president addressed his supporters in a campaign rally-style event, and yelled chants including “Shame, shame, shame” and “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
However, what began as a peaceful protest turned violent following the rally as Trump supporters and opponents came face to face, yelling at one another as the crowd began to disperse. It is unclear how it began, but the police soon began deploying tear gas projectiles and smoke canisters in an effort to clear the demonstrators.
“I was outside and nothing was happening when a cop just threw a smoke bomb and dispersed everybody,” recalled 42-year-old Misha Smith, who was outside the convention center, according to the Huff Post. “Then people started throwing water bottles.”
The confrontation reportedly lasted for over an hour.
The law enforcement officers, dressed in riot gear and gas masks, also pepper-sprayed the anti-Trump protesters, including a young girl.
Police reportedly arrested four people.
A number of people took to social media to share their experiences:
Police using tear gas at #phoenixrally. Too much smoke to see clearly if there is violence. Mostly just seeing ppl yell. Not sure why gas.— Mark Pitcavage (@egavactip) August 23, 2017
Not tear gas that police are firing to disburse Trump protests, it's pepper balls. Here's a shell that landed near me. pic.twitter.com/wJUzb5WI5J— Roque Planas (@RoqPlanas) August 23, 2017
I'm sitting in my car in tears. I left 20 minutes ago. The protestors were not rioting. They do not need tear gas and bullets #PhoenixRally— Danaerys Targaryen (@kateduganx) August 23, 2017
Downtown Phoenix pic.twitter.com/AMIhajD0RX— Casey Kuhn (@CaseyAtTheDesk) August 23, 2017
Police now moved remaining crowd back another block, shouting match going on as stalled traffic tries to leave pic.twitter.com/Ufm0LB2sAr— Kirk Siegler (@KirkSiegler) August 23, 2017
As several news outlets reported, a police helicopter circling overhead told the demonstrators to leave the area while the officers on the ground threatened them with arrest for “unlawful assembly” if they did not vacate the premise.
The clashes between Phoenix police and Trump protesters also raised some very serious questions.
So the protestors at the #PhoenixRally were sprayed with tear gas for protesting hatred, but the Nazis in Charlottesville were left alone??— Julia ?? (@juliarose2000) August 23, 2017
It is pertinent to mention the authorities in Charlottesville have still not issued arrest warrants against the white supremacists who brutally assaulted a 20-year-old African-American man named Deandre Harris with metal poles and tiki-torches, despite the overwhelming photo and video evidence.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Sandy Huffaker