PHOENIX, AZ - Hundreds of Latinos and immigrant rights advocates plan to protest Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump when he speaks this weekend at several campaign events in Arizona, which holds its presidential primary Tuesday.
Trump is scheduled to attend an event Saturday morning with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity in downtown Phoenix before traveling about 30 miles to another event in Fountain Hills. He’ll end the day with a rally in Tucson. Organizers say they’re working out the details as they plan to have a presence at all three of Trump’s events.
“We’re coming together to stand up against the hate and the violence that Donald Trump is inciting towards our people,” said Carlos Garcia, director of Puente Arizona, one of the groups helping to organize the protests.
Garcia said he and other protesters “will not be there to antagonize or to be anything less than nonviolent, but we do have to be careful.” He noted that in July, when Trump made his first presidential campaign stop in Arizona, Trump supporters yelled racial slurs at protesters. Some protesters were also spat on, shoved and hit by Trump supporters.
Activists say they are aware of the recent violence and arrests at Trump campaign events. Last weekend, a planned rally in Chicago had to be canceled after chaos and clashes between protesters and Trump supporters erupted. A few days before that, a Trump supporter was charged with assault for sucker-punching a protester at a campaign rally in North Carolina.
Alejandra Gomez, co-director of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), a Latino-led workers rights organization, said anyone who’s planning to protest at Trump’s events in Arizona this weekend is being advised to remain nonviolent.
“We’re trying to make it clear that we’re not going there to entice violence,” she said. “We’re going there to protest and say that Trump politics are not welcomed here.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said he’s encouraging people not to protest “because I believe Donald Trump feeds off these protests.” Instead of protesting, he said people should dedicate their time and energy registering people to vote in areas such as Maryvale, Glendale and South Phoenix, where there’s a significant number of Latino eligible voters.
“That would be more impactful and more harmful to Trump than standing out there and protesting so he could use that anger to energize his xenophobic and hateful base,” Gallego said.
The protests come a day after Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz visited Arizona’s border with Mexico. Arizona House Speaker David Gowan led the tour, which also included Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who dropped out of the race for the White House and is now supporting Cruz.
“I hope that Ted Cruz goes out there and sees that not only is the border secure, but it’s a deathtrap for our people,” Garcia said, adding that Border Patrol agents have been found to be abusing their power and that thousands of immigrants have lost their lives trying to cross the border through dangerous terrains.
The protests also come several days after dozens of Latino and immigrant rights advocates, many of whom are organizing the Trump protests, marched to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office demanding that he denounce Trump and veto several bills approved by the Arizona State Legislature that they say are anti-immigrant. An aid for the Republican governor said he’d deliver their message.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will also campaign in Arizona this weekend. Clinton is scheduled to speak at a Phoenix high school on Monday. Sanders hosted multiple rallies in Arizona this week and will host another event in Phoenix on Saturday.