Police use pepper spray to disperse protesters at Trump's Phoenix rally

PHOENIX, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Police fired pepper spray to disperse protesters outside a rally by U.S. President Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday after being pelted with rocks and bottles, police said.

Police have not given an estimate of the number of protesters, but Arizona media said there were several thousand. Police did not say whether the pepper spray was used on pro- or anti-Trump protesters, or both.

"People in the crowd have begun throwing rocks and bottles at police," Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sergeant Jonathan Howard said.

A look at the protests outside Trump's Phoenix rally:

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Police pepper spray protesters outside Trump's Phoenix rally
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Police pepper spray protesters outside Trump's Phoenix rally
Police officials lob tear gas to try and disperse demonstrators after a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Pro-Trump supporters face off with anti-Trump protesters outside a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Pro-Trump supporters face off with anti-Trump protesters outside a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Anti-Trump supporters hold candles after a Donald Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Pro-Trump supporters face off with anti-Trump protesters outside a Donald Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: Police prepare to advance upon demonstrators after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: Smoke and tear gas fills the air around trapped drivers as police advance upon demonstrators after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: A demonstrator picks up a canister to throw it back toward police after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: A woman gives a peace sign to police officers in riot gear after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: A demonstrator helps a man in a cloud of tear gas get up after collapsing as a line of police officers pepper spraying and tear gassing demonstrators advances following a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio,, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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"Police have responded with pepper balls and OC (oleoresin capsicum) spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd and stop the assaults," he said.

Four people were arrested during the protest, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a news conference.

"We had tens of thousands of people downtown peacefully exercising their first amendment rights," Williams said. "What’s unfortunate is that a very small number of individuals chose criminal conduct."

Police called on the crowds to disperse. Many of the protesters quit the scene, while dozens of police in riot gear and carrying shields sought to clear remaining protesters from the downtown area.

The Phoenix Fire Department said it treated 56 people for heat exhaustion and dehydration at the convention center. Twelve people were taken to the hospital. (Reporting by David Schwartz and Keith Coffman; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Paul Tait and Simon Cameron-Moore, Larry King)

RELATED: President Trump holds campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona

18 PHOTOS
President Trump holds campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona
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President Trump holds campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump cheer before his arrival at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to the cheering crowd at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 22: An inflatable depiction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and President Donald Trump face protesters face the Phoenix Convention Center as protesters demonstrate against President Donald Trump during his rally at the convention center on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump cheer him at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Members of the John Brown Gun Club sit with their guns outside of a campaign rally in Phoenix Arizona, U.S. August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to a crowd of supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: A protester holds a painting depicting President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Phoenix Convention Center where a rally by Trump was being held on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio,, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a sign as the president speaks to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio,, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
A supporter watches demonstrators gather outside the Phoenix, Arizona, Convention Center where US President Donald Trump will be speaking at a 'Make America Great Again' rally on August 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Segall (Photo credit should read LAURA SEGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 22: Protesters chant and wave signs across the street from the Phoenix Convention Center as President Donald Trump holds a rally at the convention center on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Demonstrators and supporters gather outside the Phoenix, Arizona, Convention Center where US President Donald Trump will be speaking at a 'Make America Great Again' rally on August 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Segall (Photo credit should read LAURA SEGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
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