Republican frontrunner Donald Trump appeared on several Sunday morning talk-shows to denounce the disruptions and protests that have erupted at several of his most recent campaign events. Some evidence on social media websites, and statements by activists, shows that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders were planning incidents in advance.
In a posting on Twitter, Trump said Sanders is a liar, while giving indications that he might send Trump supporters to Sanders events. 'Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren't told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!'
Sanders’s campaign has claimed that it had nothing to do with raucous protesters who infiltrated a Trump rally on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The rally was cancelled due to concerns over the safety of Trump’s fans. Four police officers were injured during the rally. Anti-Trump protesters threw bricks and rocks, successfully bringing the rally to a halt. Numerous protesters wore t-shirts bearing the logo of the Sanders campaign, or Black Lives Matter. Some brandished Mexican flags and chanted in Spanish.
There has been an escalation of incidents at Trump events over the last week. Protesters were sprayed with pepper-gas in Kansas City, Missouri, on the evening of March 12. On that morning in Dayton, Ohio, one of Sanders’s supporters rushed the stage where Trump was speaking. While claiming that he did not wish to harm Trump, the 32-year-old Tommy DiMassimo did admit that he had planned to take over the podium to repudiate Trump’s supposed racism.
Sanders's supporters were quick to respond on social media. Some taunted Trump to send his supporters to Sanders's rallies.
Trump’s view on the disruptions was clear: "My people have said we oughtta go to his rallies, when liberals and super-liberals, I don’t even call ‘em liberals... These people are bad people that are looking to do harm to our country." He has accused the Sanders campaign of “organizing” disruptions. In Cleveland, Ohio, Trump charged that the Chicago violence was directed by the Sanders campaign.
In response, Sanders said in a statement, "As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar." During a March 12 news conference, Sanders said "I don't think our supporters are inciting. What our supporters are doing is responding to a candidate who has, in fact, in many ways, encouraged violence." He added, "When he talks about: 'I wish we were in the old days when you could punch somebody in the head.' What do you think that says to his supporters?"
For his part, Trump has said his supporters are “nice” and that they would not engage in the kind of behavior ascribed to the Sanders campaign. Today on CNN, Trump said he is serious about issuing orders so that his supporters would go and confront people at Sanders' rallies, as mentioned in his tweet. "It’s not a threat, it’s not a threat. It’s not a threat at all!"
Trump said of the tweet: "My people have said we ought to go to his rallies, when liberals and super-liberals, I don’t even call ‘em liberals... These people are bad people that are looking to do harm to our country. These people come into mine … They’re being arrested and all sorts of things are happening to them. There’s a horrible thing going on in the media. We are treated so unfairly, and I’m treated so unfairly."
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.