CHICAGO - Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump gathered at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago for a showdown on Friday afternoon, and the rally ended up being canceled for security reasons.
"It's anger in the country," Trump told MSNBC afterwards. "I don't think it's directed at me. Just what's been going on for years."
Trump said he did not "want to see people hurt or worse."
A statement from Trump's campaign read:
"Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight's rally will be postponed to another date. Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace."
Inside the event, arguments and scuffles broke out between Trump supporters and opponents. People were yelling and pushing. Several people were led away by police. Two civilians and one police officer were injured and had to be hospitalized.
Rev. Jedidiah Brown of Chicago had tweeted before the event: "I feel this Trump rally at UIC is giving me a glimpse into the civil rights movement, I never seen such bold hatred in my life." Two hours later, Brown made it on to the stage and yelled at supporters from the podium before being taken away by security.
In spite of security checking people at the door for signs, many anti-Trump protesters somehow got signs into the doors. Protesters got into each other's faces and screamed.
Many of the protesters were holding signs supporting organized labor. Others are focused on Trump's plan to "build a wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Before people were even let inside the arena, we talked with a protester who claimed that a huge percentage of people with tickets were actually Trump opponents, which seemed to be true as things played out inside.
"The strategy is that we're going to have a formation inside, and we're going to lock arms. They're not going to be able to tackle all of us," the protester said.
After the Trump rally and before his own event in the Chicago suburb of Rolling Meadows, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Trump bears responsibility for what happened.
"The city of Chicago in 1968 saw some ugly days when politics descended into hatred, incivility and even violence. I hope we can appeal to our better angels and avoid going down that road again," Cruz said. "America is better than this. We don't have to tear each other apart. We ought to be having a positive, meaningful discussion. I think a campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment. When a candidate encourages supporters to engage in violence and punch people in the face, it escalates."
The executive director of the activist group MoveOn.Org released a statement later blaming Trump and congratulating protesters.
"To all those who took to the streets of Chicago, we say thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough," Ilya Sherman said. "Mr. Trump and the Republican leaders who support him and his hate-filled rhetoric should be on notice after tonight."