(CBS) — The Donald Trump rally at the UIC Pavilion was abruptly “postponed” Friday evening, amid security concerns, as protesters massed outside the University of Illinois-Chicago campus venue and even infiltrated the campaign event.
The announcement came around 6:30 p.m., after thousands of Trump supporters filed into the hall at Racine and Harrison, in anticipation of a speech by the controversial Republican presidential candidate. Protesters had marched across the University of Illinois-Chicago campus toward the site of the campaign rally.
Trump said his campaign made the decision after meeting with law enforcement officials. Chicago police said they did not meet with the Trump campaign. “Nor did we make any suggestion the event be cancelled.”
“I felt it was just safer. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews following the pullout.
Matthews pressed Trump about the unrest displayed by a diverse group of protesters.
“There’s a lot of anger in the country, and that’s sad to see,” the candidate replied.
He said he would come back to Chicago “some other time.”
Things were tense outside, following the announcement inside the UIC Pavilion, as throngs of anti-Trump demonstrators ringed the building. A Chicago police officer was seen bleeding from the head, but it wasn’t immediately clear what had happened; he was reportedly taken to Stoger Hospital in good condition. Other police officers could be seen clashing with demonstrators.
According to Chicago Police News Affairs, two officers received minor injuries and five people were arrested.
Police rushed from their posts outside the UIC pavilion where they found officers struggling with a protester. Eventually the protester was subdued on the pavement of a nearby intersection, but not before being bloodied in the melee. A handful of other activists were also seen taken away by police.
The announcement of the event’s cancellation drew a mixed response at UIC Pavilion, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports. A number of protesters inside the venue were elated, while Trump supporters were disappointed and angry. Police shooed everyone out, while trying to keep peace.
One protester told CBS 2 he thought the campaign was shut down because Trump was “scared.” When asked who Trump was scared of, the protester replied, “Of us!”
Outside of the event, chopper video from CBS 2 showed hundreds of people gathered at an intersection. Others tried to form human chains attempting to block traffic, however, police were able to quickly push the crowds to disperse.
Eventually, the protesters were cordoned off to an area outside the campus parking garage, where police cleared a path for attendees to leave. Hundreds of protesters stood along the road taking part in chants and holding signs. One held a sign that read: “Has Humanity Ever Built A Wall That Could Withstand Human Will?”
Trump’s political campaign had rented out the university facility, over the objections of critics who said it was not an appropriate venue for the contentious candidate.
Trump supporters had been enthusiastic about seeing the billionaire developer and GOP presidential frontrunner.
“I like everything that comes out of his mouth,” Dean Wareh said earlier Friday on the way into UIC Pavilion. “I like the way he unifies people. Look at how he energized everybody.”
“I just think it has turned a lot of people on. I’m very excited to be a part of this. I haven’t seen anything like this in my 65 years,” Valerie Schmitt said.
Many protesters told CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross they were demonstrating because of the Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats to deport millions of immigrants. At least a handful of protesters who made it inside were ejected from the UIC Pavilion.
Martinez reported as security began escorting protesters out, many Trump supporters chanted in unison, “Build a wall!” and “USA!”
Officials from the Trump campaign told attendees over loudspeakers that this was to be a peaceful rally and that when they’re engaged with a protester not to engage physically, but instead to hold a Trump sign up and shout, “Trump!”
Outside, Trump protester Inaya Salaam says they weren’t pointing out anything new about Trump. “But it’s nice to see the camaraderie out here in the community, and that’s the change I’m looking for,” she tells CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who hopes to overtake Trump and win the GOP presidential nomination, was also in the Chicago region Friday. Cruz was attending a formal dinner for the Northwest Suburban Republican Lincoln Day Dinner. The sold out event was not met with disruptions or any protesters.
Cruz blamed Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric for the disturbance in Chicago.
“In any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. Any candidate is responsible for the culture,” Cruz said. “I think the decision should be based on public safety, but I think a campaign bears a responsibility for creating an environment. When a candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence, to punch people in the face, the predictable consequence of that is that it escalates.”
All GOP candidates were invited to attend the event, but only Cruz accepted.