Hillary Clinton on Friday condemned violence by protesters at a Donald Trump event but said the presumptive GOP nominee shoulders some of the blame for creating a volatile atmosphere and encouraging confrontations.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Friday, Clinton said, “I condemn all violence in our political arena.”
She added that she also condemned the violence when it was being committed by Trump supporters earlier in the campaign and alleged that Trump had incited that. In the past, Trump has at times decried violence against protesters but at other times said he would pay legal fees for supporters who hit one.
“Trump has lowered the bar,” Clinton said, “and now is it a surprise that people who don’t like him are stepping over that low bar? I don’t think so. He needs to condemn all violence by everyone.”
Asked whether she fears the violence benefits Trump politically, she told Tapper it does not help anybody.
“I don’t want to parse it,” she said. “I don’t want to talk about the political implications. I just want it to end.”
Trump has dismissed the San Jose protesters as “thugs” and noted that some were seen burning American flags. Videos from the protest showed people throwing bottles and eggs, sucker-punching Trump supporters, tearing up signs, and burning a “Make America Great Again” hat.
“Great evening in San Jose other than the thugs,” Trump tweeted Friday. “My supporters are far tougher if they want to be, but fortunately they are not hostile.”
During the protest, John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman tweeted, “Violence against supporters of any candidate has no place in this election.”
A representative of the Bernie Sanders campaign also condemned the violence on Thursday night.
Rapid response director Mike Casca retweeted a news report on the protests and commented, “We cannot stop trump’s violent rhetoric with violence – only peaceful protest in a voting booth can do that.”
The city of San Jose was still reeling from Thursday night’s events Friday.
Mayor Sam Liccardo praised police for containing the violence while protecting the right to assemble, but he cast blame on both the candidate and the protesters for what happened.
“While it’s a sad statement about our political discourse that Mr. Trump has focused on stirring antagonism instead of offering real solutions to our nation’s challenges, there is absolutely no place for violence against people who are simply exercising their rights to participate in the political process,” he said in a statement.
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a Friday news conference that, in hindsight, there were not enough officers present to keep the peace.
In an editorial Friday, the San Jose Mercury News criticized protesters for making Trump look sympathetic.
“Protesters fell into Donald Trump’s trap with their response to his campaign tactics Thursday,” it said. “It was not one of San Jose’s finer moments. Violence has no place in American politics.”
The South Bay Labor Council, one of the organizations that participated in the protest, expressed similar sentiments.
“We condemn the violence that happened at the rally,” said Executive Officer Ben Field. He added that his group’s role was entirely peaceful and the violence appears to have started after they left.
According to Field, the protest was intended to condemn the “often hateful and divisive speech” coming from Trump.
“It’s disappointing that today we’re talking about the violence perpetrated by a few of the demonstrators yesterday instead of the message of our rally, which was a condemnation of violence and hate,” he said.