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Phoenix police fire tear gas at anti-Trump protesters

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 23/08/2017
People fled the scene as protesters and police clashed [Matt York/AP] © Provided by Al Jazeera People fled the scene as protesters and police clashed [Matt York/AP]

Police have fired tear gas and stun grenades at crowds of protesters in Arizona as they demonstrated against US President Donald Trump, who held a campaign-style rally for supporters.

A cloudy haze enveloped the night sky on Tuesday outside the downtown Phoenix Convention Center where Trump had just wrapped up his speech.

People fled the scene as protesters and police clashed.

Police claimed protesters threw rocks and bottles at shielded officers, who were armed with batons.

"People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police. They also dispersed some gas in the area," said Jonathan Howard, Phoenix police spokesman.

The officers responded with pepper spray to "disperse the crowd and stop the assaults," he said.

Local television station 3TV showed footage of police shooting a rubber bullet at a protester who had kicked back a tear gas canister.

Police have not given an estimate of the number of protesters who turned out for the event, but Arizona media said there were several thousand people.

READ MORE: Campuses, cities reject far right after Charlottesville

Earlier in the day, scuffles and shouting matches were reported between protesters and Trump supporters who had lined in the heat to attend the president's first political rally since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Authorities were on high alert in the aftermath of events in Charlottesville. There, on August 12, a white supremacist mowed down anti-racist protesters who were countering a far-right rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

Mayor Greg Stanton had unsuccessfully called on the president to not hold the Phoenix rally so soon after the trouble in Charlottesville.

"Toxic Trump," read one protest sign held up to the president's supporters streaming into the Phoenix Convention Center downtown. "Lock Him Up!" read another, a reference to earlier campaign chants by Trump and his backers about his election rival Hillary Clinton.

Dillon Scott of Phoenix, who voted for Clinton, said he came out to express dissatisfaction with how long Trump took to denounce racism after the Charlottesville violence.

"No one should be allowed to get away with what he gets away with, especially in political office," Scott said.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters chanted, "Wrong side of history! Wrong side of history!"

A number of opposition signs showed drawings or photos of Trump with a small, Hitler-style mustache.

State Democratic leaders had urged protetsers to gather at a city-designated free speech zone near the site of the rally.

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