Chicago police have said they did not advise Donald Trump to cancel his campaign rally due to safety concerns after violent clashes between supporters and protestors broke out at the event.
The Republican presidential candidate announced he had decided to postpone the rally having spoken to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) after hundreds of protestors gathered at the University of Illinois (UIC) on Friday.
Inside the auditorium, rival groups hurled abuse at each other and some engaged in sporadic fighting as they waited for the billionaire to appear.
A statement issued by his campaign said: “Mr Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens and thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date.”
However, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department never told the Trump campaign there was a security threat at the venue. He said the department had sufficient manpower at the scene to handle any situation.
Mr Guglielmi said the decision to cancel the event was made “independently” by the campaign.
Interim Supt John Escalante confirmed in a press conference that police became aware the event was being cancelled at 6:30pm, adding: "The Chicago Police Department had no role, we were not consulted or provided an opinion as to whether or not the event should be cancelled.
“In fact we did assure the Trump campaign that we had more than adequate resources outside the UIC pavilion and we guaranteed them we could provide save access and exit for Mr Trump.
"At the same time we were confident that we were providing security for both the attendees that were going to the pavilion, supporters of Mr Trump, and the protestors that were outside the pavilion."
The announcement that the tycoon was to postpone his rally caused cheers to break out from many of the protestors, while some supporters of the Republican frontrunner began chanting: “We want Trump! We want Trump!” in response to the celebrations.
Several isolated scuffles erupted, with some sparked by Trump supporters attempting to wrestle flags from protesters. One protester was physically removed from the stage by security.
Violent clashes continued outside the venue, with helicopter footage showing chaotic scenes as police attempted to control the large crowds.
Chicago police said five people have been arrested and two officers injured.
This is not the first time protestors have interrupted a Trump rally and confrontations between his loyal supporters and protestors, who accuse him of stoking racial hatred, have become increasingly contentious.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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