Protesters will start gathering near Donald Trump’s rally in Phoenix six hours before Saturday’s event is scheduled to begin. One group says it will offer biker escorts for Trump supporters in case anything gets out of hand.
A flyer for Lion’s Guard Arizona says it will be “providing a safe environment for Trump supporters this Saturday” at the Coliseum. Lion’s Guard members will be wearing American Flag bandanas “so supporters needing our assistance can easily find us.”
“We are a PEACEFUL group comprised of veterans and former law enforcement, as well as Trump supporters,” said a Lion’s Guard organizer via text message. “We are attending ONLY to escort Trump supporters into and out of the rally to their vehicles. We have been informed by DPS of our boundary and expectations.”
The flyer adds that “all bikers and non-bikers are welcome!”
Three Trump protesters were arrested outside Trump’s last Arizona rally in Fountain Hills in March.
Since then, demonstrations have been getting more aggressive. When supporters and protesters clashed in San Jose, Calif. earlier this month, some exchanged punches and one Trump supporter was egged.
“It’s all about respecting people’s right to demonstrate,” said Mike Roberts, moderator of the “Protest Trump Arizona” Facebook page. “That violence isn’t the right choice, and that really what we’re doing is organizing and collectively rejecting hate.”
Roberts, who owns the Scottsdale-based search engine optimization company SpyFu, says he doesn’t expect any problems from the biker group, and anticipates a family-friendly event.
“I think it’s kind of intimidating to go to your first protest, a lot of people, it’s going to be their first protest. Just go,” he said. “You can moderate how close you are to the action. You can do whatever level of participation you want.”
Protesters have been circulating a pledge of non-violence. They will gather at Encanto Park at 10 a.m. and either march or drive to the Coliseum at 1 p.m., Roberts said.
Lion’s Guard Arizona will meet at Encanto Park at 12:30 p.m.
The Trump event starts at 4 p.m. Doors open at 1.
The Department of Public Safety says “hundreds” of officers will be on hand at the event. DPS is restricting certain items inside the Coliseum.