SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of people clogged the street outside the Infinity Event Center to support and protest Republican president candidate Donald Trump on Friday night.
The opposing sides chanted at each other – “Trump!” “No hate!” – face to face on 600 South between State and Main. But aside from pushing and shoving, the scene didn’t turn violent.
Protesters at one point forced their way to the front door of the venue while Trump was speaking, taking down a portable awning along the way. Police eventually moved them back.
Salt Lake police said they didn’t make any arrests, but stopped a couple people who were throwing rocks and bottles.
A dance-off broke out at one point between the pro- and anti- Trump groups gathered in a large circle in the road.
Richard, who declined to his give his last name, and his 11-year- old daughter, Sadie, found themselves at the center of the throng.
“Most of the hate is coming from the Bernie supporters. We haven’t seen anybody who supports Trump using all these obscenities and trying to pick fights with people, but that’s democracy and I understand that,” he said. “It’s a little bit scary, if you want to know the truth.”
Sadie said she was “kind of scared, but it was kind of exciting.”
The Pleasant Grove father and daughter were among thousands of Trump backers with tickets who weren’t able to get into the small event center. About 1,200 people attended the speech.
Many of them lined the south side of 600 South, while protesters holding signs reading, “Mormons (heart) Muslims” and “Deport Donald” lined the north side. There was a brief shoving match when a Trump supporter holding a blue “Trump: Make America Great Again” scarf stood among the protesters.
Despite police efforts to hold them back, the two groups eventually met in the middle.
Roseanna Florez, of West Valley City, said she was there to protest Trump.
“He breeds hate, he perpetuates hate,” she said, adding she supports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
On the other side of street, Syracuse resident Lonnie Williams held a sign reading, “Mormons for Trump.”
“I think Mormons are ill-informed from Mitt (Romney) and (conservative commentator) Glenn Beck. They’re telling a bunch of lies about Donald Trump. It’s pathetic. They’re Pharisees,” he said.
A few hundred protesters walked from Washington Square to the Infinity Event Center to express their disdain for the Republican front-runner.
Muna Omar, who belongs to Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group at the University of Utah, said Trump has made it clear that a person’s life background should affect how they’re treated.
“He wants to bring in injustice based on your skin color and religion,” Omar told those gathered as the crowd reacted angrily.
Another anti-Trump protester, Jiovan Melendez, from Lehi, said he is angry with Trump because, in his view, the candidate lies frequently and openly breeds hostility between Americans.
“I don’t think any Donald Trump supporters can look at themselves with a clear conscience and not think he is a pathological liar,” Melendez said. “We’re going backwards if we’re not coming together as a nation. Do (people) want a divisive leader or someone who will bring the country together?”
Also, several dozen Latinos staged a Trump protest at Liberty Park.
Letty Butsamante isn’t normally a political person, but decided to attend Friday’s rally because of some of Trump’s comments about immigrants.
“For being president, I don’t think it’s appropriate of him to say what he’s saying,” Butsamante said. “They (immigrants) are just here to have their families and work, they’re not here to cause trouble. … I don’t care about politics, but when I heard him on the TV, I was like, ‘I don’t want him as my president.’ ”
Contributing: Ben Lockhart
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