Scores of protesters heckled Donald Trump at a rally in St. Louis on Friday, adding to ongoing demonstrations by locals who oppose the Republican presidential front-runner and his often divisive policy proposals.
Protesters interrupted his stump speech at the Peabody Opera House in downtown St. Louis at least six times. They held signs and chanted “stop the hate,” while the crowd responded with “U-S-A.” Trump mocked the demonstrators and referenced a previous rally when a protester got punched.
“Go home and get a job,” he told them. “I heard this was going to happen, they said, ‘Mr. Trump, would you like to cancel?’ I said absolutely not. These are the people destroying our country. The hatred in this country is incredible. The divisiveness in the country is incredible. You can’t have it.”
Hours before Friday’s rally, dozens of his supporters clashed with some protesters. They exchanged dueling chants and insults, and there were also a few brief individual confrontations, including a yelling match that almost turned into a fistfight.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department made at least one arrest outside the event.
The demonstrations come a day after a man was charged with assaulting a protester at Trump’s campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. At a press conference Friday morning, the billionaire businessman defended supporters who hit back at protesters at his campaign events. He said that is “what we need a little more of.”
This week, a journalist also reported encountering violence at Trump event. A reporter for Breitbart accused his campaign manager of assault on Thursday, and she has since filed a criminal complaint over the incident.
In an interview with NBC’s Katy Tur, Trump defended his manager. He also accused the reporter of fabricating her accusation. “Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened,” Trump he said.