Despite Greg Stanton—the Democrat who is the mayor of Phoenix—asking him to postpone following the events in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in the city last night (August 22). He spoke for more than 70 minutes, riling up what The Washington Post calls “a partially filled Phoenix Convention Center hall.”
The convention center was surrounded by protesters. While Trump started his time at the mic by saying, “There aren’t too many people outside protesting, OK. That I can tell you,” photos posted to Twitter tell another story.
Views from the roof of the parking lot across from Phoenix convention center. People packed on every floor. #trumprally protest pic.twitter.com/pHMc1rbAik
— Saba Hamedy (@saba_h) August 23, 2017
Arizona Republic reports that the rally was peaceful, but that shortly after Trump stopped speaking, police used pepper balls and stun grenades to force the crowd out of the area. Officers say that some people threw rocks, empty water bottles and tear gas, but protesters maintain that it did not happen. Two people were taken to the hospital and 26 were treated by emergency medical personnel on-site for heat-related illnesses, but there were no other reported injuries. Four people were arrested.
Local organizing groups—including Living United for Change in Arizona and Puente Arizona—are holding a press conference today at 11 a.m. local time to address the “alarming police response” to the protest. Watch it live here.
You can watch the video or read the transcript of the speech Trump delivered yesterday, but here are the three main things you need to know:
He threatened to shut down the government to get his border wall built.
Trump said that “obstructionist Democrats” are blocking the funding he needs to build his proposed wall on the nation’s southern border and hinted that he would mobilize his party to withhold an approved budget for the federal government.
“Build that wall. Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said. Congress has until September 30 to approve a spending package or risk shutdown.
He intimated that he will pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
After 23 years of violating the constitutional rights of the people he was supposed to be serving—including illegally stopping Latinx people he felt were undocumented immigrants with no provocation—Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court last month for ignoring a federal order to stop. He is scheduled for sentencing in October and could face up to six months in jail.
Following up on previous claims that he will pardon Arpaio, Trump said, “By the way, I’m just curious. Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? That’s why—he should have had a jury, but you know what? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’’s going to be just fine, OK? But, but I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that OK? All right? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
He said the media twisted his words on Charlottesville.
Trump gave a partial recounting of his statements on Charlottesville, leaving out his comments about their being “very fine people” among the violent White nationalists who descended on the Virginia town and blaming the media—“sick people”—for giving the hate groups he refused to completely renounce a platform:
So I’m condemning the strongest, possible terms, “egregious display,” “hatred, bigotry and violence.” OK, I think I can’t do much better, right? OK. But they didn’t want to put this on. They had it on initially, but then one day he talked—he didn’t say it fast enough. He didn’t do it on time. Why did it take a day? He must be a racist. It took a day. Dishonest people.