Thousands Protest in Phoenix as Trump Hints He May Pardon Joe Arpaio

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TRNN speaks to some of the thousands gathered to protest Donald Trump in Phoenix

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Story Transcript

Oscar Leon: Thousands of people gathered on Tuesday, August 22nd when President Donald Trump held his first rally after the violence in Charlottesville. Inside the Phoenix Convention Center speaking to thousands of his supporters, US President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump: The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you, which is what they do when they attack the decency of our supporters.

Oscar Leon: Outside the convention center people also gathered, mostly to protest Donald Trump. Also among the anti-Trump crowd we saw some Trump supporters too, challenging the protestors. And militiamen armed with assault rifles, who refused to make any statements.

These are some of the voices we heard.

Genevieve Rice: I’m here to protest Trump. I’m not happy that he’s in our city and I hope that he doesn’t try to pardon Arpaio.

Teresa: We can’t go back in time. Everybody deserves equality regardless, and if you aren’t standing against all of this fascist racism, then you’re for it.

Michelle: I really think that having a peaceful protest to show how displeased we are and how we do not stand by Donald Trump’s rhetoric of racism, where he equates the KKK and white nationalists to other groups like ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter.

Crowd: Our streets. Who’s streets? Our streets. Who’s streets? Our streets. Who’s streets? Our streets.

Zaira Libier: We’re here to defend our people. Joe Arpaio terrorized our community for 24 years and Trump’s promise to pardon him is a slap in the face. It’s devastating to a lot of family members here in our community.

Sabrina Buttler: The direction that they’re leading our country is fascist and obviously he doesn’t have a problem with fascism, the KKK, white supremacists, and it’s disgusting. And I’m here to stand with all these beautiful people that want to save our country from this disaster.

Melissa: But I think for our country, the biggest issue right now, is the healthcare. He’s trying to take away all of our healthcare, and that’s not okay.

Crowd: Black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter.

Tash: I believe it’s very important for us to exercise our rights to assemble peacefully and to protest against the kind of bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, hatred, intolerance, that Donald Trump stands for.

Tasha: My name is Tasha [Burell] and I’m here because I have black children, point blank.

Carmen: So I’m an immigrant. I am from Mexico and I have been in this continent longer than any white folks that have been here in this country, and I think that that’s one the issues, that this nation was built from immigrants from many different nations, not just one. So this country belongs to many people, not only white folks.

Rashad: Yeah, I mean. You know the Trump administration, through its policies, through the rhetoric of the campaign, has really brought to the surface the worst aspects of American racism, and he has been explicitly involved. Hiring and working with Steve Bannon. Evoking age old racist stereotypes, and he has really brought neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists who hid in the dark regions of the internet, out into the public. And we saw that in Charlottesville.

Oscar Leon: So these are some of the voices we heard outside the Phoenix Convention Center in what turned out to be an anti-Trump rally right outside a pro-Trump rally.

Police stood in riot gear on Montrose Street between protestors and Trump supporters. As one group walked into the convention center, the two crowds had two barriers and the street between them. The protestors boo-ed the Trump supporters as they walked inside the convention center.

Crowd: Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you.

Ralph Buttler: I mean essentially those are Trump supporters man, and everyone’s just going ahead and letting them know that they’re not okay with, as she said, white supremacy, with the idea of a corporate America that shoves fascism down your throat, an obviously militarized police force that’s going to subjugate already oppressed peoples, and just the continued downward spiral of America. We’re all here to lift each other up.

My grandpa didn’t fly halfway around the world to beat the Nazis so we could let them come back here and do this, dude.

Crowd: Whose America? Our America. Whose America? Our America. Whose America? Our America. Whose America? Our America.

Oscar Leon: Initially, as the rally first got underway, Phoenix police said there had been no arrests or significant incidents. This quickly changed and chaos erupted outside the Phoenix Convention Center. Police said in a statement to the press, that they were forced to deploy pepper balls and tear gas into the crowd because people were throwing rocks and bottles at them. The tear gas dispersed the crowd in the area.

However, we contacted Reyna Montoya from Aliento, one of the organizers of the demonstration. She had a different version of what happened.

“The march was completely peaceful. The violent ending was not expected. Apparently one woman threw a water bottle to a police officer. Without a warning or anything, I saw the tear gas. It started to burn my face, my eyes and I was coughing. I literally had to run from the gas. We are really disappointed at the Phoenix Police Department at how they tear gassed peaceful protestors without warning.”

Puente. Another local NGO involved in the march also issued a statement.

“After refusing to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville last weekend, Trump came to Phoenix to rally them. He’s not too sure if Joe Arpaio is the latest sign of the white supremacy that is governing the white house.”

And while Donald Trump so far has not pardoned former Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, inside the building the President of the United States blamed the media as the responsible for the climate of political division in the country.

Donald Trump: But the very dishonest media, those people right up there with all the camera’s. These are truly dishonest people, and not all of them, not all of them. You have some very good reporters. You have some very fair journalists, but for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people. And just so you know from the Secret Service, there aren’t too many people outside protesting, okay.

Oscar Leon: For the Real News from Phoenix, Arizona, this is Oscar Leon.