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Dueling Trump rallies prompt police reinforcements

For hours Sunday, Buffalo police formed a line between supporters and opponents of President Trump, as dueling rallies took over Colonial Circle.

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Credit Jonny Moran / WNED|WBFO
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The original plan was for an impeachment rally at Elmwood and Bidwell sponsored by Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray and a support Trump rally a half-mile away at Colonial Circle led by Tea New York activist Rus Thompson. That plan changed when people left Elmwood and Bidwell to confront Trump supporters at Colonial Circle.

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"At quarter after 12, I get a text message with some pictures showing me that the opposition is setting up in our defined area," Thompson said. "The whole idea what we wanted to do is to have them down at Elmwood and Bidwell. We were at Colonial Circle and Bidwell to keep a half-a-mile in between us, so you can go to that event and our people could go to this event."

In the early stage, there was a two-man brawl caught by TV cameras, although there were no arrests. McMurray and Thompson had met and shaken hands and moved to their respective rallies, after being peaceful.

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"This is why we have discussed this for a couple of weeks, to keep these things separate," Thompson said.

"Well, we moved over here to get it away from you guys following us," McMurray said.

"I'm not stalking you. Don't say that. I'm not stalking you," Thompson said.

"If there are people down there who want to join us, send them our way," McMurray said.

"I wish somebody would go down there and say, 'You're at the wrong rally.' We got two separate events and that's the way we intended it to be," Thompson said.

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Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
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WBFO News

Former police officer Cariol Horne was also there.

"I actually was driving past and I just came to get pictures and once I got pictures, I didn't realize that there were also anti-Trump people here and, of course, a lot of them, I know from activism," she said. "So I stopped and while I was taking pictures decided to join in."

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Police were equipped with extra-long batons and all carried a pack of plastic handcuffs. They stood in a line across Colonial Circle as the groups on the two sides periodically moved closer to each other. As the standoff continued, police reinforcements arrived and hardened the line.

As the heat and the derisive chants eventually wore everybody down, the crowd thinned, with the Trump group filtering out first.

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Credit Jonny Moran / WNED|WBFO
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Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.