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Politics, Elections and Government

Trump Holds Raucous Rally, Police Pepper Spray Protesters

Cody Newill
KCUR 89.3
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stopped in Kansas City to raucous support and protest Saturday.

Just a day after canceling a rally in Chicago due to violence and unrest, GOP front-runner Donald Trump came to the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland in downtown Kansas City on Saturday to try to boost his chances of winning Missouri's Republican primary.

Though hundreds waited in line for hours to support the billionaire business tycoon, hundreds also showed up to protest his more controversial statements regarding undocumented workers and Muslims

And while no Trump supporters appeared to resort to violence, screams and jeers accompanied protester interruptions. For about 20 minutes of his speech, Trump could hardly talk without protesters chanting "Racist Trump has got to go!" and waving signs that read "Deport Racism," and "Racism is Un-American."

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3
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Two women who interrupted Trump's speech. They were quickly escorted from the premises by security.

Trump appeared amused at first, but he soon grew annoyed.

"It's really amazing, when you think about it, you see these disrupters," Trump said, "Bad people, so bad for our country. People who have no idea what's going on."

He suggested that he would press charges against protesters in the future, saying the demonstrators could "go home to mommy," as they were led out of the venue by security.

After the outbursts settled momentarily, Trump then erroneously told the audience that a man who attempted to rush the stage at a rally in Dayton, Ohio was an agent of the Islamic State.

"He was looking to do harm. This wasn't a guy that was looking to have fun," Trump said. "My people found his name, and it was probably ISIS-related. My people found this on the Internet."

Trump also took time to talk about the latest GOP debate, which was largely seen as uncharacteristically civil, and to bash rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

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The Midland was packed with hundreds of Trump supporters.

"Did I win that last debate?" Trump rhetorically asked to a thunderous roar of applause. "It's easy to be presidential, but when somebody like 'Little Marco' hits me or 'Lyin' Ted' ... holds up that Bible and puts it down and lies!"

Trump also used the rally to continue to foment distrust of the media, pointing to press members as the audience erupted in cheers.

"The press, the dishonest press, they're the most dishonest people in the world," Trump said.

Though Trump riled audience members up with talk about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, doubling down on the use of torture to gain military intelligence and continuous insults, he failed to connect when he brought up the Iraq War.

"We spent $2 trillion on a stupid war that totally destabilized the Middle East," Trump said as the theater grew silent. "Iran now takes over Iraq without firing a bullet!"

Despite that moment of quietness, Trump's supporters frequently cheered when he mentioned increasing military spending and a willingness to use torture methods to gain intelligence against the Islamic State. Trump capped the evening off telling the crowd they would be proud to have him as president.

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3
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Hundreds protested for hours outside the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. Police arrested two people and used pepper spray on countless others.

Outside the rally, protesters gathered through the Progressive Youth Organization clashed with police along Main Street several times throughout the evening as they hurled chants and curses, back and forth with Trump supporters.

Dozens of officers flooded downtown to respond to the tension, which was exacerbated by crowds from the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center.

By the end of the night, the Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forte said on his Twitter account that the department had arrested four protesters and used pepper spray to disperse crowds twice.

The use of pepper spray led to national media coverage, and outrage on social media from civil rights activists and local activist group One Struggle KC.

Trump has a slight edge going into Tuesday's primary in Missouri, according to polls by The Kansas City Star and other media outlets. He previously lost the Kansas Republican caucus on March 5 to Ted Cruz, who also rallied in Kansas City Saturday.

Cody Newill is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewill or send him an email at cody@kcur.org

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