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New Hampshire Democrats plan to protest Donald Trump rally

New Hampshire Democrats plan to protest Donald Trump rally

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Trump’s re-election campaign says he supports the people’s right to free speech — as hundreds of Democratic activists plan to protest his rally here Thursday and police make plans to keep the “for” and “against” groups apart.

“The president always supports people’s opportunities to exercise their First Amendment rights for free speech,” said Erin Perrine, deputy communications director for Trump’s re-election campaign.

Hundreds of Democrats are signed up to demonstrate outside the Southern New Hampshire University arena in Manchester before Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally, said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress.

“We’re reminding folks that the values that President Trump is espousing, particularly the hateful rhetoric, are not beneficial for Granite Staters,” Rice Hawkins said. “People are concerned about the rhetoric he has been touting, particularly in response to the violence that’s been happening across the nation.”

Granite State Progress will join members of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and other activist groups from 4 to 7 p.m. on Lake Avenue. But Rice Hawkins said they won’t be encouraging activists to enter the arena for Trump’s 7 p.m. rally because people are “very nervous about what may occur at a Trump rally given what we’ve seen across the nation.”

Perrine said there will be areas outside the arena designated as “free speech zones.” Inside – as at all Trump rallies – audio will play encouraging supporters, if confronted by protester, to cheer loudly for the president until the individual is escorted out.

Manchester police Chief Carlo Capano’s force is planning for protests as he expects at least 11,000 people — roughly the arena’s capacity — to flood the city Thursday.

“We would like to keep protesters separated from anybody that’s attending the event. Clearly there’s free speech, and certainly we’re not going to object to their free speech. But we have to be very careful as far as crossing that line for any type of criminal behavior, which we will not tolerate,” Capano said.

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