PRESIDENTIAL VISIT: President Trump, VP Pence appear at planned Downtown Phoenix rally
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have arrived at the Phoenix Convention Center for a planned rally.
The visit came, after Trump made a brief stop in Yuma. Vice President Pence appeared on stage first to introduce Trump.
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The President's visit to Downtown Phoenix is not without controversy, as Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has made vocal calls for Trump to delay the visit, in the wake of a deadly White Supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump's response to the deadly protest, which blamed "both sides" for the deadly incident, has drawn criticism.
In addition to the controversy surrounding the visit, some schools and businesses, and even the Maricopa County Superior Court's downtown facilities, have announced shortened hours, in response to the anticipated crowds and potential for protests.
Minor scuffles reported near rally site
According to the Associated Press (AP), protesters have engaged in minor scuffles and shouting matches with Trump supporters, some time during the afternoon hours.
In addition, the AP reported that a half-dozen people showed up outside Trump's rally with military-style rifles and fatigues to join the protests against him.
Members of the Redneck Revolt describe themselves as an anti-fascist group who are offended by the president's policies and comments in the aftermath of the racial violence of Virginia. A man who identified himself as "John Brown" carried an AK-47 and said he was there to protect the anti-Trump protesters. Arizona allows people to carry weapons openly.
Police kept the two groups on opposite sides of the street behind barricades and officers, but that did not stop them from engaging in shouting matches. The protests were largely peaceful, despite the large number of people gathered.
According to a statement released at 7:15 p.m. (PDT) by Phoenix Police Sergeant Jonathan Howard, there have been no arrests of significant incidents so far.
No pardon for Arpaio today, despite speculation
There were some speculation that President Trump will use the downtown rally Tuesday to announce a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding an Arizona judge’s order in 2011 to stop his anti-immigrant traffic patrols, and Trump has previously told Fox News he is "seriously considering" a pardon for the controversial sheriff, who was voted out of office in 2016.
On Tuesday, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Air Force One that there would be no discussion of a pardon, and no action taken on that front at any point on Tuesday.
At the rally, however, Trump appears to have hinted at a future pardon for Arpaio.
Trump said, during a portion of the speech, that he predicts Arpaio will be "just fine", and said, without using the word "pardon", that he won't do it on Tuesday night, because he didn't "want to cause any controversy".
The Associated Press (AP) and Fox News contributed to this report.
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