President Donald Trump plans to rally supporters in downtown Phoenix next week.
“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” says Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
Trump’s campaign announced the event Wednesday — a day after the president blamed “both sides” for weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators. The campaign says the Aug. 22 rally will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“With regard to use of the Phoenix Convention Center for the rally: This is a public facility and open to anyone to rent – and that includes the Trump campaign,” Stanton says. “Our Constitution protects the right to free speech, even for those we disagree with or those who don’t represent the values we hold dear as a community.”
The president has been holding campaign-style events in Trump-friendly areas since he took office. Next week’s rally will be Trump’s first in the West. Trump told Fox News in an interview this week that he may pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Phoenix-area sheriff who recently was convicted in federal court.
“In preparation for this event, my focus and that of the Phoenix Police Department is on keeping everyone – those attending the rally, those expressing their First Amendment rights outside and the general public – safe,” Stanton says. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”