Phoenix mayor asks Trump to cancel rally; protests called off across U.S.

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Aug. 17, 2017 at 10:59 AM
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Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has asked President Donald Trump to postpone a campaign-style rally scheduled for Tuesday, as many protests across the United States were called off for fear of violence.

In a statement Wednesday, Stanton, a Democrat, asked Trump to delay his visit to Phoenix because "our nation is still healing from the tragic events at Charlottesville."

A senior Trump campaign adviser told ABC News on Wednesday, "Barring any unforeseen events between now and then, there is no chance we will delay the rally."

Some other scheduled events across the country have been canceled in light of violence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. A "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue drew members of neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan. A counter-demonstrator was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians.

Upcoming appearances by white nationalist speakers at Texas A&M University and the University of Florida were canceled by the schools.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that such rallies aren't welcome in Kentucky -- ahead of a planned white nationalist event in Lexington, Ky.

"Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America," he said in a statement.

A two-hour "free speech" rally scheduled for Saturday in Boston has received city approval.

A rally scheduled for Richmond, Va., next month will not go forward.

A Sept. 16 rally remains scheduled for Washington's National Mall, billed as a pro-Trump "Mother of All Rallies." It coincides with a march scheduled that day by the Juggaloes, the fan base of the rap group Insane Clown Posse. The Juggaloes are protesting their inclusion on an FBI list of gangs.

Stanton's statement comes as Trump is considering a pardon for former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in July on federal criminal contempt charges for his treatment of immigrants. When the White House announced the rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, it renewed speculation that Trump could use the event to pardon Arpaio, whose tough stance on illegal immigration while sheriff made him famous and popular among Republicans, NPR reported Thursday.

Arpaio, 85, was not re-elected to the sheriff's position in November. The conviction stems from his refusal to stop targeting Latinos a year after a court order barred deputies from detaining immigrants in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.

"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 tensions and further divide our nation. It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit," Stanton's statement said.

At the scheduled rally, Trump is likely to endorse Kelli Ward, a challenger of incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 Arizona Republican primary. Flake has been critical of Trump in interviews and in a new book.

Arizona is also represented by Sen. John McCain, another GOP member of Congress whose pivotal vote in the Senate helped defeat a plan to abolish the Affordable Healthcare Act. McCain has also been critical of Trump.

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