The Latest: Phoenix courts closing early for Trump rally

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

State agency directors are being given the option of allowing employees who work near downtown Phoenix to leave work early or telecommute to avoid traffic and security snarls in advance of a rally put on by President Donald Trump.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman says agency offices will remain open to serve the public but agency heads are being given leeway to make adjustments in advance of Tuesday evening’s rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The county’s downtown Phoenix Superior Courts plan to close at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The Arizona Republic reports that many other downtown businesses plan to close early or allow their employees to telecommute.

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3:48 p.m.

Democratic leaders in Arizona say they’re still disappointed that President Donald Trump is coming to Phoenix Tuesday and that they’re worried protests will turn violent.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said he’s fearful that neo-Nazis and others will stir trouble, although he said he trusts the Phoenix police will do their best.

Jevin Hodge, vice chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, said Trump’s “racially inflammatory” rhetoric is not welcome in Arizona.

He said Arizonans have moved away from racism and that they will stand up to bigotry.

Trump has been criticized for his response to the Charlottesville protests that turned deadly after white nationalists who were protesting the planned removal of a Confederate statute clashed with counter-protesters. Trump blamed both sides.

A 32-year-old woman was killed when a young man associated with racist ideology plowed his car into the counter-protesters.

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2 p.m.

Authorities say they’re fully prepared to handle protests surrounding President Donald Trump’s rally in downtown Phoenix but stress they will have no tolerance for illegal activity.

The Phoenix mayor and police chief joined other top officials to discuss preparations for the Tuesday presidential visit, coming in the aftermath of race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mayor Greg Stanton said he stood by his earlier comments that he thinks it’s too soon to have a political rally after the protests in Charlottesville.

Police Chief Jeri Williams says free speech will be supported but criminal conduct will be swiftly addressed.

The speech is scheduled for Tuesday night at the Phoenix Convention Center.

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1:50 p.m.

Court officials say no special preparations are being taken to prepare for the possibility of arrests that might result from protests or other activities associated with President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit Tuesday to Phoenix.

Spokesmen for Phoenix Municipal Court and Maricopa County Superior Court say their courts already operate overnight to hold hearings for judges to determine whether people who have been arrested should remain in custody.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has said there will be “maximum staffing” by the Police Department during Trump’s visit, which is for an evening rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.

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1 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman says he will not attend a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center with President Donald Trump.

Monday’s announcement from spokesman Daniel Scarpinato came after the governor’s office refused for days to say whether he would join his fellow Republican on stage.

Ducey will instead meet the president when Air Force One lands at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Tuesday afternoon. Scarpinato said in a statement that he’s focused on working with law enforcement to ensure a safe event in downtown Phoenix for all involved.

The purpose of Trump’s visit to a city where he held numerous rallies during his campaign hasn’t been announced. There is speculation that he may announce a pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio or an endorsement of Kelli Ward in her primary campaign to unseat Sen. Jeff Flake.

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12:28 p.m.

Rep. Andy Biggs has joined two other Republicans on Arizona’s congressional delegation in supporting a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

President Donald Trump has said he’s considering a pardon of Arpaio’s conviction for disobeying a court order to stop his immigration patrols.

Like Republican Reps. Paul Gosar and Trent Franks, Biggs described the case against Arpaio as a political prosecution and supports a pardon.

Three Democrats on Arizona’s nine-member delegation oppose a pardon.

The fourth Democrat said Arpaio should be held accountable for his actions.

Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters that he’d prefer to let the Arpaio case run its course.

Other top Arizona Republicans — Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. John McCain and Reps. Martha McSally and David Schweikert — haven’t publicly revealed whether they support an Arpaio pardon.

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10:19 a.m.

Organizers of a protest against President Donald Trump as he visits Phoenix on Tuesday say they’re expecting several outside groups to join.

Carlos Garcia of Puente Arizona says protesters will meet Tuesday around 4 p.m. and march from a downtown park to the Phoenix Convention Center, where Trump is scheduled to hold a rally at 7 p.m.

Garcia says he is encouraging all protesters to be peaceful and said he expects a large police presence, including the Secret Service.

Immigrant rights activists have protested Trump’s several Arizona visits, at one point blocking a major road that led to a rally he held in Fountain Hills, a Phoenix suburb.

The groups oppose Trump pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of misdemeanor contempt-of-court this year. Trump told Fox News he was seriously considering a pardon.

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