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Donald Trump rallies in Vegas, Phoenix remain mostly orderly

By MICHELLE RINDELS and BEATRIZ COSTA-LIMAJune 19, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Saturday, June 18, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Saturday, June 18, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Donald Trump’s two campaign stops in the Southwest unfolded Saturday without the violence and mayhem seen at some of his other rallies in recent weeks.

At the first event, thousands of people lined up patiently around the glowing slot machines in a Las Vegas Strip casino in hopes of seeing the Republican presidential candidate in person. Many wore “Make America Great Again” hats and “Hillary for Prison” T-shirts.

About 1,500 squeezed into the Treasure Island casino’s Mystere Theater, typically reserved for a whimsical Cirque du Soleil acrobatics show. Several hundred more watched Trump’s speech on screens at a country line dance bar down the hall, while others were turned away because there was no more room.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said 57-year-old Donna Wilson, a private investigator who traveled from Long Beach, California, for the event and held a sign proclaiming “The silent majority stands with Trump.”

“He’s an amazing man. He’s very powerful, and I think he’ll change America and make it great again,” she said.

Las Vegas police said one person, identified as 19-year-old Michael Sandford, was arrested at the event. Sandford allegedly approached an officer under the pretense of getting an autograph but then tried to disarm the officer.

Officers quickly took him into custody. He was turned over to the U.S. Secret Service and is expected to face charges.

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters gathered on the sidewalk of the Las Vegas Strip, far from the theater, and used a bullhorn to decry Trump’s “terrifying” views on climate change. Demonstrators said they were directed to stay off the private casino property.

Tom Walters, an unemployed engineer, wore a T-shirt with the handwritten slogan “Never Trump Commander-in-Chief.” He said he scoured the internet for details on protest plans and didn’t find much, but he and his wife, Karolina, showed up to the sidewalk anyway with “Dump Trump” signs.

“He changes positions left and right, and no one seems to notice or care,” Walters, 36, said of Trump. “We can’t have our leader doing that.”

Inside, the crowd was generally orderly, although security officers appeared to lose their patience with enthusiastic Trump fans who were pressed up against barriers near a security checkpoint, angling to snag the last few open spots in the theater.

Attendees who spoke to The Associated Press said they were frustrated by how President Barack Obama handled the economy, think they can’t trust Hillary Clinton, and want to try at least four years with a total outsider in the White House.

“Whether it be a white man thing, I don’t know,” Henderson resident Teague McClendon, a 44-year-old warehouse sales manager, said as he waited in the long line. “But if you look around, it’s more than that.”

Trump then headed to Phoenix, where supporters endured 111-degree weather to wait for him at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The event drew roughly 6,000 people, filling about half the venue.

Many, such as 48-year-old Kimberley Clayton, of Phoenix, were insistent on showing support.

“We need a non-politician in office — somebody who can’t be bought out,” Clayton said. “I’ve never voted Republican in my life until now. I’m an independent.”

About two dozen protesters gathered about a block from the arena entrance. Several carried signs with messages including “Trump is hate” and “I’m protesting Trump hate in 118 degree heat.” Two led chants with bullhorns.

Some shouting matches erupted as attendees walked to their vehicles. But a barricade separated them from demonstrators, and no physical altercations occurred.

One man wearing a T-shirt that used profanity to denounce Islam was ejected from the coliseum a few hours before the rally began. Officials had Arizona Department of Public Safety officers escort him out after he refused to turn the shirt inside out.

Two people were arrested for minor consumption of alcohol on state fairgrounds property, the agency said. They were cited and released.

Firefighters treated four people for heat-related issues at the scene.

Phoenix police Lt. Paul Taylor praised the numerous officers who were charged with monitoring the streets surrounding the venue and the protest area. He believes the extreme heat kept tempers from flaring.

“Although I’m not a weatherman and I’m not a doctor, I would submit to you, having been out there all day myself, that may have played a significant role in it,” Taylor said.

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Beatriz Costa-Lima reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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