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Donald Trump cancels rally in Chicago due to security concerns

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CHICAGO–Donald Trump supporters and protesters alike packed into an arena on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago for an evening rally with the Republican candidate for president, but he announced he would be a no-show after the intensity of the crowd.

“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace.”

Later on, Trump told MSNBC on a call he didn’t “want to see people hurt or worse” at his campaign rally in Chicago, so he decided to postpone the event. “I think we did the right thing,” he said.

The announcement that Trump would postpone the rally for another day led the crowd inside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion to break out into raucous cheers, though several fights between Trump supporters and protesters could be seen after the announcement as well. A large contingent of Chicago police officers moved in to restore order.

Meanwhile, supporters of the candidate broke out into chants of “We want Trump! We want Trump!”

Many of those who were waiting in line to get into the Friday night event identified themselves as protesters. UIC student G.J. Pryor said he wanted to disrupt Trump’s speech, adding he would only do so if he felt safe.

Some Trump supporters walking toward the arena chanted, “USA! USA!” and “Illegal is illegal.” One demonstrator shouted back, “Racist!”

There was a heavy police presence outside the rally, with barricades and mounted police keeping most protesters and Trump supporters apart.

Trump supporter Veronica Kowalkowsky says she has no ill will toward the protesters. But the 18-year-old says she has felt their ill will, adding: “I feel a lot of hate. I haven’t said anything bad to anyone.”

Trump attributed the protests not to objections to his policies, but to general malaise in the United States — particularly among people upset they haven’t been able to find jobs.

“It’s anger in the country,” he said. “I don’t think it’s directed at me. Just what’s been going on for years.”

But many of the protesters at the event said they were there to stop Trump from speaking. Among them was Jermaine Hodge, a 37-year-old lifelong Chicago resident who owns a trucking company. He says: “Our country is not going to make it being divided by the views of Donald Trump. Our country is divided enough. Donald Trump, he’s preaching hate. He’s preaching division.”

Dozens of UIC faculty and staff had petitioned university administrators to cancel the rally. They cited concerns it would create a “hostile and physically dangerous environment” for students.

A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department says the agency never recommended that Trump cancel his campaign rally in the city.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department never told the Trump campaign there was a security threat at the University of Illinois at Chicago venue. He said the department had sufficient manpower on the scene to handle any situation.

Guglielmi says the university’s police department also did not recommend that Trump call off the event. He says the decision was made “independently” by the campaign, and Trump never arrived at the Chicago venue.

Earlier Friday, 32 people were arrested in protests both inside and outside Trump’s rally at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, police said. Thirty-one people were charged with disturbing the peace, and one was charged with third-degree assault. St. Louis police declined to provide further details.

With additional reporting by CNN.