Trump denounces San Jose protesters as thugs
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denounced protesters in California as thugs on Friday after the latest demonstration at his political rallies turned violent in the days before the state’s presidential primary.
Videos posted on Twitter and online by local and national media showed clashes on Thursday evening in the street outside of the San Jose Convention Center, where demonstrators fought and threw punches. Hundreds of protesters waved Mexican flags, chanted anti-Trump slogans and burned Trump hats and at least one U.S. flag.
“Rally last night in San Jose was great. Tremendous love and enthusiasm in the hall. Big crowd. Outside, small group of thugs burned Am flag!” Trump said in a Friday morning Twitter post.
Protesters, many angry over Trump’s rhetoric against illegal immigration, have gathered at Trump rallies for months. Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the Nov. 8 election, canceled a rally in Chicago in March after clashes broke out between his supporters and protesters.
Violence has peppered recent rallies in New Mexico and California, the U.S. state with the largest immigrant population, in advance of primary elections there on Tuesday. Trump opponents have said the unrest is fueled in part by his fired up tone.
The latest violence followed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s scorching critique of Trump in a speech on Thursday in which she derided the real estate developer as a dangerous man with an angry, fearful world view.
Trump has accused Mexico of sending drug dealers and rapists across the U.S. border and has promised to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.
He stayed true to form Thursday night, to the delight of his supporters, vowing to stop illegal drugs from coming into the United States from the south and reiterating his promise to seal the border.
“We are going to build that wall, don’t even think about it,” he said gave two thumbs up as his supporters chanted “build that wall.”
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Ginger Gibson; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)