After large-scale fights and violence erupted in the wake of a Trump rally cancellation in Chicago Friday night, the GOP presidential front-runner spoke out on the controversy at a campaign event in Ohio Saturday morning.
"So let’s address yesterday, should we?" Trump asked of a crowd inside an airplane hangar in Dayton, Ohio, Saturday morning.
"We had a tremendous rally in Chicago planned, we were going to have over 25,000 people," he said. "It was very interesting, these were great people, these were people like yourselves, these were people who want to make America great again."
"And they were pouring into the arena, good arena, everything nice, and all of a sudden, a planned attack just came out of nowhere," he continued. "It was printed by people that were professional people, if you look at the posters, they’re all printed, they have a mark on them who made them, all done by a group, all very professionally done. A disgrace, if you want to know the truth."
Trump said they alerted supporters prior to the event and told them not to attend due to safety concerns.
"We made a decision. And I hated to do this, because frankly, it would have been easier to go. But I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt," Trump added. "You would have had a problem like they haven’t seen in a long time because we have people that are so amazing and it’s not necessarily loyal to me, it’s loyal to the country. We want to see things happen."
Trump postponed his rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion on Friday evening, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., over safety concerns.
"Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight's rally will be postponed until another date," an announcer said at the arena. "Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace."
The crowd burst into shouts and cheers, and some scuffles broke out in the minutes after the announcement was made. Some people could be seen yelling at each other or making vulgar gestures; multiple punches were thrown. A man who took the podium was escorted away by officers.
People could be heard chanting "Trump" shortly after. The protests spread to the streets around the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion, where a group of people were seen stopping cars.
At a Friday evening press conference, Chicago Police said five people were arrested amid the chaos. Additionally, two CPD officers were injured – both non life-threatening -- though one officer was struck on the head by a bottle.
Trump also took to Twitter early Saturday and blamed organized "thugs" for the clashes that forced him to call off the chaotic rally in Chicago where supporters and protesters broke into fights even before the controversial candidate took the stage.
"The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!" he tweeted. [[371876962, C]]