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DFL Chair Says Trump Protesters 'Crossed The Line'; GOP Wants Answers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Top Republican leaders are demanding answers tonight after violence against Donald Trump supporters attending a fundraiser with the candidate in Minneapolis on Friday.

Minneapolis police say protesters showed up before and after the event that featured Donald Trump's first campaign appearance in Minnesota.

But when the fundraiser ended, many Trump supporters faced a gauntlet of intimidation and abuse.

"There is no excuse. There is no excuse," said Sheri AuClair of Minnetonka, who attended the Trump fundraiser with 15 other people.

Protesters waited outside the Convention Center, and when Trump supporters left the building, many were pushed and shoved.

Some were spit on, and sprayed with paint.

AuClair brought 15 people to the Convention Center for the Trump event, and said about 250 to 300 people attended.

"It was wonderful," she said.

But outside,  AuClair says protesters tried to intimidate her and other Trump supporters.

"They would grab the megaphones, put it right up to your ear, and start yelling in your ear," she said, "to the point it was like they were trying to break your eardrums."

Trump supporters had posters and t-shirts snatched from them and burned on the sidewalk.

And Minneapolis Police escorted 50 people to their vehicles because they feared for their safety. AuClair's friends needed a police escort to get to their vehicles.

The Minnesota Republican Party accused Democrats of causing the disturbance, and demanded an apology from the Minnesota DFL Party, calling it "a disgusting display of bullying and physical confrontation."

Minnesota's Democratic Party leaders denounced the violence, but said they did not organize or advertise the protest.

"When people opposed to the hatred and vitriol of Donald Trump sink to his level, he wins," Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said. Martin said some unruly protesters "crossed the line."

Minneapolis police say they had dozens of officers working at or near the Convention Center Friday night, including on horseback and bicycle.

They made no arrests.

Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey questioned if Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, a Democrat, instructed police not to intervene.

The Minneapolis Police Department issued a written statement today categorically denying that police had an order to "stand down."

"We understand there were some attendees who left without escorts who were the subject of intimidation and abuse," said Minneapolis Police Department Spokeswoman Sgt. Catherine Michel. "The MPD is currently looking at video from some of these incidents.  Any rumors or reports that officers were told to 'stand down' are false."

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