Mesa officers preparing for President Donald Trump’s rally on Friday
PHOENIX — President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the East Valley on Friday, but Mesa police have already been preparing for the big event.
Det. Steve Berry with the Mesa Police Department told KTAR News 92.3 FM that officers will be manning the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport for security purposes and traffic control ahead of the 6:30 p.m. rally.
Trump will gather at International Air Response at the airport on Friday to campaign for U.S. Senate hopeful Martha McSally and other Republican candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election.
Doors for the event will open at 3:30 p.m. and Berry said attendees can expect to see officers working hard to designate so-called “free speech zones” to allow protesters and supporters the opportunity to voice their opinions in a safe way.
“By establishing these areas where (attendees) all can stand and voice their opinions, they will certainly have the ability, for lack of a better word, express their free speech,” he said.
Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said there will be separate areas for protesters and supporters about 70 feet apart.
“The lessons learned from across the country have told us that the best way to approach these things is to keep the opposing parts apart,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday.
“Our overall goal is public safety, event safety. We’re going to be out there. If people want to express their opinions, we’re great with that, we’re just not going to allow any criminal or assaultive-type behavior,” Berry said.
Those who are attending the event, Mesa police are prohibiting any overnight camping at the airport but said attendees can start showing up at 6 a.m. on Friday.
And for those who are not attending the event, Berry advised drivers to stay away from the area Friday afternoon into the evening in order to avoid heavy traffic.
“Our message is simple: You’re coming to enjoy the event, we don’t care if you’re pro or con, come out and enjoy the event. We want everyone to have a great time,” Berry said.
There will be no public activities during Trump’s visit to Luke Air Force Base earlier in the day, according to the Glendale Police Department.
The president will start his day at a roundtable with a group of supporters and then speak at a fundraising luncheon. Those events are scheduled to be private and held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.