Trump blames 'thugs' for violence at abandoned Chicago rally

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This Is How Trump Reacts to Violence at His Rallies

Donald Trump has blamed organized "thugs" for clashes that forced him to call off a chaotic rally in Chicago where supporters and protesters broke into fights even before the controversial candidate took the stage.

Five people were arrested and two officers were injured during the ugly skirmishes, Chicago police said. One of the injured officers was struck by a bottle and suffered a bloody gash that will require stitches, police said.

Click through images from the protests in Chicago:

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Trump blames 'thugs' for violence at abandoned Chicago rally
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Demonstrators celebrate after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Demonstrators celebrate after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: A ripped campaign poster sits on the floor after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Demonstrators celebrate after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: An activist is removed by police after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: A campaign worker guards the podium after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Police clear the stadium after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Demonstrators celebrate after it was announced that a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago would be postponed on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers postponed the rally citing safety reasons after hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A demonstrator is removed by Chicago police during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
A protestor holds a ripped Donald Trump sign up before the start of a rally for the Republican presidential candidate at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Protestors wearing shirts reading 'Muslims United Against Trump' are escorted out the UIC Pavilion in Chicago prior to the start of a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, face off with protesters after a rally on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago was cancelled due to security concerns Friday, March 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shout at Trump supporters after it was announced that the candidate's rally was canceled due to security concerns, on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chant 'Bernie, Bernie, and We Stopped Trump,' after a rally on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago, was canceled Friday, March 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protestors march in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016, before a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois-Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Protestors march in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016, before a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois-Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Protestor Sanko Hampton marches in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016, before a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois-Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Protestor Sanko Hampton displays an American flag in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016, before a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois-Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Protesters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, chant after a rally on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago, was canceled due to security concerns Friday, March 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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The scenes were criticized by Trump's rivals, who said responsibility for the rancor lay with the candidate.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/708619775153475584

But Trump tweeted with characteristic defiance early Saturday, saying: "The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!"

Punches were seen being thrown inside the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion Friday night. Demonstrators held up anti-Trump signs and tussled with supporters before the crowd was eventually told that the event was postponed.

SEE MORE: Protesters and Trump Supporters Clash in Chicago

The Chicago Police Department said that it was notified at 6:30 p.m. that the Trump campaign had cancelled their scheduled event. Police said the department "played no role" in the event being called off and had adequate security.

Some in the crowd were heard yelling "We did it! We did it!" after the rally was called off for the evening. There were clashes inside the venue and a large group was seen fighting outside.

"It is unfortunate that parties on both sides allowed their political views to become confrontational and that's unfortunately resulted in the scuffling that occurred inside the pavilion and those arrests that were made," police Interim Superintendent John Escalante said late Friday.

Trump told MSNBC in a telephone interview: "I just don't want to see people hurt ... We can come back and do it another time." He said he felt the decision was "the right thing to do under the circumstances."

He said there was "do much anger" at the rally, adding: "I don't think it's directed at me , it's just something that's been going on for years."

Jedidiah Brown, an activist and Sanders supporter, was dragged from the stage by security after tearing up a Trump poster.

"My focus was set on shutting it down," he told the BBC in an interview Saturday. "The bitterness, the anger ... I felt like I was in the middle of the civil rights movement."

He added: "Trump's message, Trump's campaign is not welcome in Chicago."

Carly Fiorina, who dropped out of the race to endorse Ted Cruz, agreed with Trump that "organized" groups had set out to disrupt the rally but said the candidate should take responsibility.

"Tone is set at the top," she told TODAY early Saturday.

Dannielle Villarreal and other protesters unfurled a banner that read "Trump = Hate" and which featured a Nazi swastika. She said they were there to protest Trump's "fascist language," and that members of the crowd confronted them.

"Many of them were shoving us, pushing us, trying to rip the banner from us," she said.

Questions have been raised in recent days after a man at a Trump rally sucker-punched a protester leaving an event in North Carolina, and after a Breitbart reporter accused Trump's campaign manager grabbing her hard enough to cause a bruise. The campaign manager has denied the claim.

READ MORE: Rivals Accuse Donald Trump of Encouraging Violence at Rallies

Earlier Friday at a rally in St. Louis, Trump was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. A total of 32 people were arrested at the event at the Peabody Opera House, police said.

Trump's rivals criticized Trump's rhetoric and language as predictably leading to violence. Marco Rubio pointed to instances where Trump has said he wanted to punch a protester and made similar comments.

"It shouldn't surprise us that you see a growing amount of violence at some of his events," Rubio said.

Ted Cruz said responsibility for the violence lay with those trading blows, but added "any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign."

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Trump Blames 'Thugs' for Violent Clashes at Abandoned Rally

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