Hundreds of protestors clashed with Donald Trump supporters in Chicago Friday night. The Trump campaign cancelled a campaign event at the University of Illinois saying the environment at the event was not safe.
Police say at least five people, including a CBS News Reporter were arrested. CBS’s Sopan Deb was arrested by Illinois State Police according to a Chicago police spokesman. CBS said Deb had been “detained” and by early Saturday morning, media reports said Sopan was released.
Sopan is CBS’ embedded reporter covering Trump across the country.
Before he was arrested he tweeted:
Cameras rolled as a few fistfights broke out and the video played nonstop all evening on cable news coverage as journalists tried to sort out who to hold responsible for the violence and to try to calculate what the violence portends.
Journalists have been warning about growing tensions at Trump rallies for months and the Chicago protest came only one day after the The White House Correspondents Association issued a statement saying, “We have been increasingly concerned with some of the rhetoric aimed at reporters covering the presidential race and urge all candidates seeking the White House to conduct their campaigns in a manner that respects the robust back-and-forth between politicians and the press that is critical to a thriving democracy.”
Journalists React Friday Night
-MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said to Trump during a live phone conversation, “You should have been able to predict this.”
-CNN commentator David Gergen said this could be the most important moment of this campaign so far.
-MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said, “This didn’t come out of nowhere.” “This is mobs of people being spurred to violence by the person in the front of the room in front of the microphone.”
-Fox News’ John Roberts reported live outside the venue where the rally was to have been held. Roberts was surrounded by chanting protestors holding F___ Trump signs that briefly made it on the air. Roberts calmly interviewed Trump supporters who quietly said they came to attend a peaceful rally and kept assuring everyone swarming around him that he would be open to hearing their thoughts but few stepped up.
-Trump told Fox News Friday night, “I don’t use hate speech.” He added, “There’s tremendous division in our country. I’ve seen it, I’m watching it, I’ve been witness to it, and something has to be done.”
-Megyn Kelly, who has been the recipient of some of Trump’s most personal attacks, said on Fox News said about Trump, “His First Amendment rights have been shut down tonight.”
The New York Daily News predictably put the blame directly on Trump:
The Chicago Tribune launched a live blog to document the unrest including Periscope feeds, video and photos.
WBBM TV Assignment Editor Greg Kelly tweeted an image of a police officer who had been injured in Chicago reported that some officers were injured in the clashes.
The Building Storm
November 21, 2015, a half-dozen white Trump supporters shoved, kicked and tackled a black protestor who interrupted a Trump speech in Birmingham. Trump said the next day, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Trump promised he would not have a “Bernie Sanders” reaction to protestors.
February 1, 2016 Cedar Rapids, Iowa “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato knock the crap out of them.” He said he would pay the legal bills for anybody who did that.
February 23rd, 2016 in Las Vegas, Trump said about a protestor, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” The crowd roared and Trump kept going, “In the old days,” Trump added, protesters would be “carried out on stretchers.” CNN built a story around the non-stop interruptions at Trump rallies.
March 4, Warren, Michigan, Trump once again says he will defend supporters in court if the hurt a protestor while removing them.
Wednesday, March 9th, as security escorted a protestor out of a Trump rally, a Trump support bashed the protestor in the face. He told Inside Edition, “He deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”
March 10th, The Chicago Tribune runs a story about the “rough handling” of protestors and quoting security experts as saying Trump is “playing with fire” by not tamping down the growing uncivil behaviors and assaults.
Hours before the Chicago protests heated up, Trump shouted at protestors at his St. Louis rally, “Come on, get ’em out, police, please. Let’s go!” Trump lamented that they were being moved out slowly saying, “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.” Stltoday digital producer Junius Randolph documented two protestors, one of them bloodied, being escorted away.
Journalists Feeling the Heat
Poynter.org has been tracking the building boil that journalists have felt covering the Trump campaign.
February 26th, I wrote a story quoting photojournalists from coast to coast who said Trump urged supporters to turn against them. Trump often yelled at photojournalists and ordered them to turn the cameras on the crowd. When they didn’t so as he demanded he said he would fire their ass if he could.
February 29th, I wrote a detailed story on a Time Magazine photojournalist who was slammed to the ground after confronting a member of the Trump security detail. In that story we also quoted a photojournalist who said Trump look at him and said to the crowd, “Here’s some more of these little bloodsuckers now.” The crowd of more than 3,000 loudly cheered him, and jeered the photojournalists.
March 10th, ABC News documented the growing violence at Trump events, reporting:
Yesterday, at the North Carolina rally, Trump also reminisced about the “good ol’ days” when protesters were treated “very, very rough” for speaking out. According to Trump, nowadays protesters can “get away with murder.”
On Super Tuesday, March 1st, Louisville TV station WLKY said Trump told a rally to leave a protester unharmed: “Don’t hurt him! Don’t hurt him!” He then said, “See, if I say, ‘Go get him,’ I get in trouble with the press, the most dishonest people in the world.”
Friday, a Brietbart journalist filed charges against a Trump campaign worker who she says grabbed her away while she tried to question the candidate.
MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow presented a nearly 13 minute timeline of what she said was the escalation aggression in Trump’s rhetoric.
After the evening calmed down and the streets cleared, FOX News’ John Roberts who had flown in on the Trump plane from St. Louis and landed smack in the middle of the street protest tweeted this: