Trump beats protesters at Phoenix rally, visits border wall in Arizona

PHOENIX, Arizona (Reuters) – United States President Donald Trump tried to turn the nationwide protests to his political advantage into a campaign appearance in Arizona’s electoral state on Tuesday, vowing to prevent “the mob from left “push the United States into chaos.

Trump, whose first manifestation of the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attracted fewer supporters than expected and was seen as exposing weaknesses in his campaign, promoted a public order issue in Phoenix to an audience of thousands of young people. persons.

Trump pointed to protesters who attempted to tear down a statue of 19th-century United States President Andrew Jackson near the White House on Monday night, as well as an “autonomous zone” established by protesters in Seattle, as reasons to keep him in the office instead of electing Democrat Joe Biden on November 3.

“It is not the behavior of a peaceful political movement. It is the behavior of totalitarians and dictators and people who do not love our country, “he said.

Outside the Dream City church where Trump was speaking, police forcibly dispersed hundreds of protesters marching in an adjacent “free speech zone”.

Phoenix police declared the protest an illegal assembly after protesters began blocking a street. Officers with riot gear then used flash grenades, military-style percussion devices for crowd control, to drive protesters away from the church, a Reuters photographer at the scene said.

The city police department said it ordered protesters to disperse when the crowd began throwing objects at the police, “blocking traffic and moving to a protected area for the presidential caravan.”

United States President Donald Trump delivers a “Address to Young Americans” at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. USA., June 23, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Barria

In addition to flash-bang devices, police also used “pepper balls spread out on the ground and a burst of pepper spray” against protesters, the department statement said, adding that no arrests were made.

Trump has been criticized for convincing autocratic leaders like Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia. He is also under attack by many Americans for his handling of protests in response to the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

On Tuesday, Trump said that protesters against racial injustice and police brutality “hate our history.” They hate our values ​​and they hate everything we value as Americans. ”

“We don’t bow to left-wing thugs,” he said.

Trump, who narrowly won Arizona in 2016, is seeking to defend his position in the state, according to opinion polls that Biden showed as head of the Republican president, with US Republican Senator Martha McSally behind Democratic challenger Mark Kelly.

Previously, Trump visited a newly constructed section of the border wall along the border with Mexico in San Luis, Arizona, a dusty and arid landscape where the temperature reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Using a black Sharpie pen, he autographed a plaque commemorating 200 miles from the wall.

A campaign promise to build a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border helped propel Trump to the White House in 2016.

Slideshow (21 Images)

The trip was Trump’s third trip this year to Arizona, which reported a record increase of more than 3,500 new cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday. The state also recorded record hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units, and the number of ventilator patients.

The president and his advisers have largely dismissed concerns about holding campaign events as coronavirus transmissions continue to increase in parts of the country.

Trump told the audience Tuesday that the virus, which originated in China, is known by many names, including “the kung flu,” a description that has sparked an ethnic insult.

Additional reports by Andrew Hay in Taos, Ash Ponders and David Schwartz in Phoenix and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Written by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Bill Tarrant, Sonya Hepinstall and Lincoln Feast edition.

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