Donald Trump on Saturday called for protesters who demonstrate at his rallies to be arrested by police.
“I hope they arrest these people because they’re really violating all of us,” Trump said at a rally here during which dozens of protesters were ejected from the venue by police. “They deserve to be arrested.”
During one of more than a dozen interruptions, Trump asked police to arrest the demonstrators, saying he would “file whatever charges you want.”
But Trump’s call went beyond the protesters in this Kansas City theater, with the Republican front-runner suggesting he would like to institute a practice of arresting protesters who disrupt his rallies.
“Once that’s starts happening, we’re not going to have any more protesters, folks,” Trump said.
Trump’s remark is not the first time he has called for a tightening of First Amendment protections. Protests are covered as a fundamental exercise of free speech.
Trump also said late last month that he wants to “open up libel laws” so he can sue media publications that write negative and, in his view, inaccurate news stories.
The billionaire’s comments about arresting protesters come one day after he decided to cancel a scheduled rally in Chicago after hundreds of protesters packed into the venue.
Clashes ensued between protesters and Trump supporters, and protests spilled outside the venue, resulting in five arrests. Two police officers also suffered injuries.
Legally, Trump is able to ask that protesters be kicked out of events at venues that he’s rented. But he can’t order anyone to be arrested for simply disrupting his speech.
The Secret Service controls security inside venues and typically takes the lead in crowd management, but that would not keep a local police department from bringing charges against anyone found violating the law in their jurisdiction. As an example, a man who tried to rush the stage at Trump’s event in Dayton, Ohio, earlier Saturday was arrested and charged by that city’s police department.