Phoenix prepares for Trump’s rally
Los Angeles, August 18 (IANS): Residents, policemen and Mayor of Phoenix city in the state of Arizona are preparing for a campaign-style rally by US President Donald Trump amid fear of an uproar just like the violence in Charlottesville of Virginia.
To relieve the nervousness of residents, Chief of Phoenix Police Department Jeri Williams on Thursday issued a statement on the rally that will be held by Trump on Tuesday next, Xinhua news agency reported.
Williams said the Phoenix Police Department had officers assigned to 24/7 monitor and evaluate activities that could impact local communities.
“By now, you probably have heard that President Trump is coming to Phoenix for a rally on Tuesday. While Phoenix is not immune from critical incidents, I want you to know that your city is working hard to ensure another safe event,” Williams said in the statement.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in a statement on Wednesday criticised Trump for holding the rally. He called on the President to cancel the event, as the date is too close to the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville.
“I am disappointed that Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” Stanton said. “I hope sound judgement prevails and he delays his visit.”
A rally staged by white nationalists in Charlottesville on August 12 left three persons dead and dozens injured.
Mike, a high school teacher, said he has been keeping a close eye on the event in Charlottesville and felt disappointed to Trump’s remarks on violence, racism and white supremacy.
“Trump is very capricious on the event, and he said there are good persons on both sides, which means he believes white extremists are good persons, it really bothers me,” he said, adding that he has no plan to go downtown next Tuesday to avoid violence and traffic.
In an initial statement, the President blamed “many sides” for the violence, and then had to condemn white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan this Monday.
However, a day later he said the alt-left groups were also “charging at the alt-right with clubs”.
Liz, another high school teacher working in Phoenix, said she remembered her eighth grade students’ responses after the result of the presidential election last year, in which reliably red Arizona voted for Trump.
“If it is possible, I will transfer to Canada, student told me,” Liz said. “I have been trying my best not to talk about politics in my classroom, because I really feel puzzled about the current situation.”
The Mayor also warned Trump not to announce a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty by US District Judge Susan Bolton on August 1 of criminal contempt of court for violating a judge’s order to stop racial profiling and detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio, 85, made national headlines in 1993 when he opened the Tent City jail complex in the Arizona desert near Phoenix to imprison the people he arrested.
He forced inmates to sleep in 70 tatty tents on the 37.7 degrees Celsius desert floor and wear pink underwear with tight striped jumpsuits.
Trump earlier this week said he was “seriously considering” a pardon for Arpaio, who is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5 and could spend up to six months in jail. Many residents denounced Trump’s move.
“If Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and divide our nation,” the Mayor’s statement said.
Next Tuesday’s rally is Trump’s first trip to Arizona after winning the White House and the first trip to the West under mounting criticism for his ambiguous attitude to the white supremacy.
Even though Arizona is a stronghold of Republicans, it is also home to two of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics — Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake.