Donald Trump said Friday that he canceled his rally in Chicago amid safety concerns because "I don't want to see people hurt" after violent clashes broke out between supporters and protesters.
"I don't want to see people get hurt or worse," the Republican front-runner told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News. "I decided very strongly to make a decision not to do it — to postpone the rally.
"I just think it was a very good decision," he said. "I do not want to see people hurt — inside or outside.
"We really made a good decision. The police did a great job."
Trump said he postponed the rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago after meeting with police. Officials said that they lacked enough personnel to handle the crowd, he said.
A campaign staffer took the stage of the university's pavilion in the city's downtown to tell the crowd — which Trump estimated as high as 25,000 — that the event would be postponed for safety reasons.
He told Van Susteren that the event would be rescheduled at a later date.
But after the announcement, the crowd began to chant and cheer. Scuffles broke out as signs were ripped from hands and large groups of Chicago police moved in to break up areas with the most serious conflicts.
According to news reports, many of the protesters were supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Trump emphasized to Van Susteren that the nation's poor economic conditions were the cause of the protests — not his campaign, platform or fiery rhetoric.
"I don't use hate speech," Trump said. "There is tremendous division in our country.
"I have seen it I have been watching it I'm witness to it. And something has to be done.
"When you look at the unemployment, among certain groups of people," he said. "It's incredible.
"There is a lot of anger. A lot of it on the other side.
"Big anger on the other side, because we're losing our jobs and losing our manufacturing and losing so much," Trump said. "And there is tremendous anger out there on both sides."
Under questioning by Van Susteren, Trump acknowledged that his First Amendment rights were violated by the protesters, but safety concerns were paramount.
"There is, you know, potential for conflict," he said. "Had I done it, I think we have been given a lot of praise for having done what we did.
"Had I done it, which would have been in a way easier, but I think you would have had a lot of problems tonight if I did."
In an interview later with CNN's Don Lemon, Trump said that "I don't have regrets" about using harsh language about protesters at previous rallies.
"These were very, very bad protesters," he said of those ejected at previous rallies. "These were tough guys. They did a lot of damage before they were taken out."
He added that he would meet with protesters to discuss their concerns "if the meeting was in good faith.
"A lot of them, they make this a career," he added. "I don't mind meeting with them, as long as they're in good spirits and not professional agitators."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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