Phoenix Prepares For Possible Unrest As Trump Holds Campaign Style Rally
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
President Trump is scheduled to travel to Phoenix tomorrow for a campaign-style rally. It will be his first trip to Arizona since the election. It will also be Trump's first time in front of the public since deadly violence broke out in Charlottesville, Va., a couple of weekends ago at a white supremacist rally. From member station KJZZ, Carrie Jung reports on how Phoenix is preparing for a politically and emotionally tense visit.
(SOUNDBITE OF DRUM MUSIC)
CARRIE JUNG, BYLINE: To the downtown headquarters of the organization known as Puente have been a busy place lately. The migrant justice advocacy group is holding an art party for supporters to let out their feelings and firm up plans for their protest on Tuesday. Using screen printers, one group of volunteers pumped out hundreds of signs to be used in their demonstration tomorrow. They include things like down with white supremacy and resist in blue and red ink. Maria Castro is one of the group's organizers.
MARIA CASTRO: We must stand up and resist against white supremacists like Trump and like Arpaio who have been tormenting our communities for oh so long.
JUNG: Castro is talking about Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who was recently convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge's order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. While it's not confirmed, Castro and many others here think Trump will use the visit to announce a pardon for his longtime political ally.
CASTRO: It's definitely, like, a huge slap in the face of our communities.
JIM WILLIAMS: Hello.
CASTRO: At a diner just up the road from Puente headquarters, Jim Williams is finalizing the logistics for an event his group is also hosting Tuesday. He's with Bikers for Trump Arizona.
WILLIAMS: We just don't want anybody to feel intimidated for going to hear somebody speak.
JUNG: Williams worries that anti-Trump protesters might harass or even block rally-goers.
WILLIAMS: They have a right to go and listen.
JUNG: Williams and about 100 other bikers plan to provide what they call security for the event. He explains the goal is to generally act as a buffer for pro-Trump attendees. Williams says while they aren't going to be confrontational toward anti-Trump demonstrators...
WILLIAMS: We can't allow them to get away with crowding us into a corner. We've got to stand our ground.
JUNG: Last week, the mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, asked President Trump not to visit the city, but the administration is moving forward with the event and planning trips elsewhere, including Yuma, Ariz., and later Reno, Nev. In a prerecorded statement, Mayor Stanton said he's disappointed President Trump is holding this rally while the nation is still healing from the violence that erupted this month in Charlottesville.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
GREG STANTON: If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to inflame emotions and further divide our nation.
JUNG: But, Stanton adds, he's confident in his city's ability to keep everyone safe. The police and the fire departments have spent the last week coordinating their plans.
ROB MCDADE: We had three-hour meetings with the president's forward team, and then we had breakout sessions with each multi-agency group working together.
JUNG: Rob McDade is a spokesman with the Phoenix Fire Department.
MCDADE: We are prepared for absolute worst-case scenario and then scaling back to nothing happens, and everything goes just as planned.
JUNG: According to the Phoenix Police Department, all agencies will be fully staffed because what they don't want is a repeat of Charlottesville. For NPR News, I'm Carrie Jung in Phoenix.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.