Trump can't even travel to red states without frantic local officials fretting about violence and mayhem.
It’s come to this.
Officials for a major American city, situated in a red state no less, are fretting that the president of the United States is scheduled to make a visit to their area. They’re fearful for the mayhem it could cause.
Where visits like this were once embraced and seen as signs of civic pride, this one is roiling the community. Officials in Phoenix are bracing for Donald Trump’s campaign rally on Tuesday, nervous that the street violence that marred recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, could follow him West.
The local Arizona sheriff, Paul Penzone, has stressed that deputies will be looking for the types of weapons that white supremacists and neo-Nazis carried in Charlottesville.
“There is no legitimate or reasonable purpose for civilians who go to protest peacefully to bring weaponry, whether it is shields or bats, or in Arizona, where we’re an open-carry state,” he said.
Two additional elements are adding to the fear of a potential powder keg atmosphere. First, a Trump campaign rally in Arizona last year turned particularly vicious when a protester was sucker punched and thrown to the ground by a Trump supporter who was charged with assault.
Second, Trump recently suggested to Fox News that he might pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in federal court for criminal contempt. Arpaio’s office was found to have racially profiled Latinos for years. The former sheriff constantly spews racist rhetoric and is seen by many as a hated figure who terrorized the community. He was also a strong advocate for Trump’s racist birther movement against President Barack Obama.
If Trump were to pardon Arpaio, especially from the state of his Arizona rally, one state legislator fears that there would be mayhem in the streets.
Phoenix Mayor Mayor Greg Stanton has made it clear that he wants Trump to cancel his rally.
“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” said Stanton. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”
It’s extremely rare for city officials to publicly urge sitting presidents to stay way from a region, but Trump’s rallies are notoriously divisive, partisan, and occasionally violent.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, whose district includes Phoenix, agrees.
“I absolutely think it’s inappropriate to be holding a political rally a few days after an innocent woman was mowed down by a neo-Nazi. It’s throwing tinder onto an ongoing fire,” he said.
Trump won the dependably Republican state by just 3.5 points last year.