Anti-Trump protesters rally in NY and Arizona

A protester (in blue) being attacked by Trump supporters while the billionaire candidate was giving a speech at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.
A protester (in blue) being attacked by Trump supporters while the billionaire candidate was giving a speech at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOENIX • Demonstrators briefly shut down an Arizona highway leading to a campaign rally for Donald Trump while protesters rallied outside Trump Tower in Manhattan to voice their opposition to the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Television news footage of the demonstration outside Phoenix on Saturday showed dozens of protesters blocking traffic while holding signs that read "Dump Trump" and "Shut Down Trump".

The demonstrators eventually started marching down the highway. Later, some were seen nearing the rally at Fountain Hills, Arizona, before Mr Trump arrived.

Three people were arrested, according to police in Maricopa County. Video posted on news website Arizona Central's Facebook page showed a truck driving through a large group of protesters. Officers from the county police department worked to clear demonstrators from the motorist's path.

Later at a rally in Tucson, Arizona, Mr Trump said the protests were "disgraceful," and thanked police. "They arrested three people and everybody else left... They left!" he said to cheers from the audience. "I love our police, but we should do a little bit more of that. You'd have a lot less protesters, you'd have a lot less agitators," said Mr Trump, who is favoured to win his party's nomination for the Nov 8 presidential election.

He has come under fire from rivals for fuelling unrest with his rhetoric. In his home city of New York, about 1,000 demonstrators marched from Central Park to Trump Tower, the billionaire developer's signature building in Fifth Avenue.

The crowd of mostly young people chanted and carried placards denouncing Mr Trump. Police were seen detaining at least one person.

Arizona, where political parties will hold primary elections tomorrow, shares a long stretch of border with Mexico, and is a flashpoint for the issue of illegal immigration into the United States.

Mr Trump has made illegal immigration the signature issue of his campaign, earning the endorsement of outspoken local sheriff Joe Arpaio. "Donald Trump has the right to be heard by the thousands of people who love him, support him and want him to be president of the United States," Mr Arpaio told CNN.

Mr Trump leads in opinion polls ahead of Arizona's primary, according to a Real Clear Politics polling average, leading Senator Ted Cruz of Texas by 13 percentage points.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'Anti-Trump protesters rally in NY and Arizona'. Print Edition | Subscribe