A Donald Trump rally in Chicago was called off Friday after protests and clashes erupted even before the controversial candidate took the stage.
Punches were seen being thrown inside the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion Friday. Demonstrators held up anti-Trump signs and tussled with supporters.
The crowd was notified that the event was postponed by an official over a loudspeaker.
“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago, and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed until another date. Thank you very much for your attendance. And please go in peace.”
The Chicago Police Department said that it was notified at 6:30 p.m. that the Trump campaign had cancelled their scheduled event. Police said the department “played no role” in the event being called off and had adequate security.
Some in the crowd were heard yelling “We did it! We did it!” after the rally was called off for the evening. There were clashes inside the venue and a large group was seen fighting outside.
Five people were arrested, and two officers were injured, Chicago police said. One of the injured officer was struck by a bottle and suffered a bloody gash that will require stitches, police said.
“It is unfortunate that parties on both sides allowed their political views to become confrontational and that’s unfortunately resulted in the scuffling that occurred inside the pavilion and the arrests that were made,” Police Interim Superintendent John Escalante said late Friday.
Trump told MSNBC in a telephone interview Friday evening, “I just don’t want to see people hurt … We can come back and do it another time.” He said he felt the decision was “the right thing to do under the circumstances.”
“On one side you have people that haven’t had a pay increase in 10 years, frankly, and the businesses are moving out of the country and they’re upset and they’re angry,” Trump said. “And on the other side you have people that feel differently about other elements, and you know, it all comes together.
“There’s a lot of anger in the country and it’s very sad to see, actually,” Trump said.
Trump has made controversial comments about immigration from Mexico and Muslims.
Trump was criticized recently for not immediately disavowing David Duke on a Sunday talk show after the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard endorsed his campaign; Trump later claimed his earpiece was not working properly.
Dannielle Villarreal and other protesters unfurled a banner that read “Trump = Hate” and which featured a Nazi swastika. She said they were there to protest Trump’s “fascist language,” and that members of the crowd confronted them.
“Many of them were shoving us, pushing us, trying to rip the banner from us,” she said.
Protesters began getting escorted out of Friday’s rally about an hour before it was scheduled to start, NBC Chicago reported. Three people removed were wearing shirts that read “Muslims United Against Trump” and “Make America Hate Again.”
Questions have been raised in recent days after a man at a Trump rally sucker-punched a protester leaving an event in North Carolina, and after a Breitbart reporter accused Trump’s campaign manager grabbing her hard enough to cause a bruise. The campaign manager has denied the claim.
Earlier Friday at a rally in St. Louis, Trump was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. A total of 32 people were arrested at the event at the Peabody Opera House, police said.
Trump’s rivals criticized Trump’s rhetoric and language as predictably leading to violence. Marco Rubio pointed to instances where Trump has said he wanted to punch a protester and made similar comments.
“It shouldn’t surprise us that you see a growing amount of violence at some of his events,” Rubio said.
Ted Cruz said responsibility for the violence lay with those trading blows, but added “any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign.”
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.