A union that represents 54 officers from the University of Illinois at Chicago Police Department is speaking out—arguing the chaotic Donald Trump rally on campus last week did not have to escalate to an extreme level of disorder and could have continued as planned.
The Metropolitan Association of Police Board Director, Ray Violetto, tells Fox News that UIC Police Chief, Kevin Booker, issued unusual stand-down orders including instructions that officers not bring pepper spray or wear dark gloves to the Trump rally—items the union officers say are basic and necessary equipment in any type of crowd control.
Violetto tells Fox News the UIC police were the agency in charge considering the Trump rally was on the school’s campus and that the officers were in charge of policing the inside of the arena.
“I think the inside is what started that and I think it carried outside,” Violetto told Fox News. “If you watch the inside of the rally there was a pretty large group there that was getting out of control along with the individual that was at the podium.”
Violetto said officers were also told not to touch anyone or make arrests. The UIC officers say they have been extensively trained in handling crowds and riots and could have adequately controlled the situation that night.
The MAP police say not only were they put in physical danger but they also were potentially left open to lawsuits because the three people who officers say they rightfully and legally arrested were let go without explanation as a result of the Chief’s no-arrest order.
UIC spokesperson Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez denies the officers' claims and says riot gear was available “if needed.”
In an email, Gonzalez wrote that pepper spray is typically not used inside the campus arena, officers were not given orders not to place their hands on people, and that officers were told not to wear “dark” gloves, which look “aggressive.”
Violetto argues there are “no white gloves that are out there.”
Gonzalez also wrote that most of the UIC officers were in full uniform with personal protective gear, with the exception of plain-clothes detectives who provided surveillance and valuable intelligence.
The University says Booker was on site and in charge of managing all UIC police activity and coordinated with multiple law enforcement agencies during the event.
The University acknowledged Fox News’ request for an interview with the police chief but did not grant the interview.
Additionally, Violetto says his officers think the chaos at the rally was caused by professional protestors.
“We believe it was a planned event with professional protestors that caused the issues,” Violetto said. “We don’t believe it was students from UIC that was there.”
Matt Finn is a Fox News correspondent based in the Chicago bureau. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFinnFNC