Violence mars US Republican rallies

FURY: A protester interrupts Donald Trump’s speech at a campaign rally in Kansas Pictures: REUTERS
FURY: A protester interrupts Donald Trump’s speech at a campaign rally in Kansas Pictures: REUTERS
Secret Service officers rushed on stage to protect US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump during a disturbance at a rally, a day after rowdy protests shut down his event in Chicago.

Trump briefly ducked at the podium and four Secret Service members scrambled to surround him on Saturday after a man charged the stage at Dayton International Airport in Ohio.

Officers then grabbed the man before he was able to reach the stage and hauled him away.

“I was ready. I don’t know if I would have done well but I would have been out there fighting, folks,” Trump told a rally later in the day. He said the man “was looking to do harm”.

The incident further increased tension after Trump’s Chicago rally was scrapped amid chaotic scenes on Friday.

Trump’s Republican rivals hurled scorn at the billionaire, saying he helped create the nervous atmosphere that is now sweeping the race for the White House with his fiery rhetoric.

Trump blamed supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for the incidents in Chicago, where scuffles broke out between protesters and backers of the real estate magnate.

He called the US senator from Vermont “our communist friend”.

Sanders hit back. “As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organise the protests.”

The scenes in Chicago followed a series of incidents of violence at Trump rallies, in which protesters and journalists were punched, tackled and hustled out of venues, raising concerns about degrading security leading into the November 8 election.

Trump has drawn fervent support as well as criticism for his calls to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and to impose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

At an event in Kansas City on Saturday, Trump urged police to arrest people who disrupted his events. “I’m going to start pressing charges against all these people and then we won’t have a problem,” he said to cheers.

Outside the rally, officers used what appeared to be pepper spray against demonstrators for a few seconds.

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