Donald Trump is coming to Fresno for a campaign stop at Selland Arena on Friday morning, and the eyes of the nation are watching – eager to see if the violence associated with some of his rallies breaks out here, too.
We urge everyone in attendance to keep their cool and make their points without lowering themselves to name-calling or violence. The last thing Fresno needs is to show itself as a city where democracy involves fistfights, throwing rocks and turning over police cars.
We are better than that. And this is our chance to demonstrate that Fresno is, indeed, a Great Melting Pot of people and ideas, and a place where we embrace the noble, high ideals of our republic – even if Trump, in his discourse and in his campaign platform, often does not.
Earlier in the campaign, Trump’s supporters stoked violence with name-calling and aggressive acts toward people protesting the xenophobia of the Make America Great Again campaign that now has secured Trump the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
But Tuesday in Albuquerque, N.M., and Wednesday in Anaheim, it was the anti-Trump protesters who shamed their cause. What happened in Albuquerque, where screaming demonstrators vandalized police cars, threw projectiles at officers and set fires, was nothing less than a riot.
These thugs and hooligans – some of them waving Mexican flags and wearing shirts and carrying signs with expletives in English and Spanish – played right into Trump’s hands. We concur with an Albuquerque Journal editorial that said: “Those protesters did more to gin up support for Trump nationwide than any speech he could have given or any political endorsements he could have received. … If the protesters’ intentions were to generate sympathy for immigrants, they failed miserably. If their goal was to generate fear and distaste for people here illegally and progressives, and to drive undecided voters toward Trump, this crowd surely succeeded.”
There were eight arrests at Trump’s appearance the following day in Anaheim, where anti-Trump protesters set a trash can on fire and threw rocks at police officers.
But matters in Anaheim largely were kept under control. The key, Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt told the Los Angeles Times, was that “we had a very strong uniformed presence from the beginning, which I think set the tone. It helped by keeping the protesters away from the attendees as well.”
The Bee’s Rory Appleton reported Wednesday that there will be 76 Fresno police officers assigned to the event – 40 outside and 36 inside Selland Arena – and that at least two protest groups have formed. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says it will monitor the situation and deploy deputies if needed. We expect that our local law enforcement officers will handle the situation, whatever arises, appropriately and professionally.
The best possible outcome: Everyone exercises their right to free speech in a civil manner, no one is hurt, no property is destroyed and the Trump circus moves to its next stop.
If not, Trump will take to Twitter, as he did in Albuquerque: “The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!”
Let’s not allow him to substitute “Fresno” for “New Mexico.”