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“I did not feel that it was the right time to do this. It’s too close after Charlottesville,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who urged the president to delay Tuesday evening’s planned rally.
Calling Tuesday a “difficult and trying day” for his community, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he was “under no illusions” that President Trump would heed a formal request to delay a planned evening campaign rally in Arizona’s largest city, coming on the heels of violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and a subsequent protest in Boston.
The Democratic mayor said earlier in the day that steps would be taken to ensure the safety of both Trump’s supporters inside the Phoenix Convention Center and protesters outside exercising their First Amendment rights to number.
The city’s Incident Management Team started working with regional law enforcement partners since last week to plan out traffic restrictions downtown and other precautionary measures, ahead of demonstrations the mayor hoped would be “civil, respectful and peaceful.”
“I did not feel that it was the right time to do this. It’s too close after Charlottesville,” Stanton said, during a televised press conference Monday with local public safety officials. “That was such a difficult situation, not only for the people in Charlottesville but for all Americans. That’s why a campaign-style rally so shortly thereafter, I did not think was appropriate.”
The situation could have become even more dangerous for police if Trump decided to pardon former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted in July of racial profiling after ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop—an act the White House said Tuesday afternoon would not happen.
Stanton considered that a win, possibly the only win of the evening.
In a op-ed in The Washington Post, Stanton accused President Trump of dousing “racial tensions with gasoline” and threatening to “light a match” in the city—possibly with a pardon that “can be viewed only as a presidential endorsement of the lawlessness and discrimination that terrorized Phoenix’s Latino community.” Stanton further wrote a pardon of Arpaio would be a rallying point for white supremacists after local Republicans helped vote the sheriff out of office.
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.