- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Several hundred demonstrators gathered on Saturday to protest Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, marching from one skyscraper that bears his name to another.

The protesters, a loosely organized group that included immigrants’ rights activists, students and socialists, gathered in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, at the base of Central Park, near the Trump International Hotel and Tower. They then marched across Central Park South to Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper where Trump lives, before returning to Columbus Circle for a rally.

“I think Donald Trump is speaking a message of fascism and racism, and I don’t think that’s good for America,” said Laura Merrill, a tour guide who supports Democratic Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.

There was a heavy police presence for the largely peaceful protest, and officers used megaphones to warn demonstrators to stay on the sidewalk, out of the streets, and not to impede foot traffic.

At least two protesters were arrested for walking in the street. A group of demonstrators that tried to break through a police barricade was pushed back by officers, who used pepper spray.

Protester Redentor Tarona, who marched as a member of a Filipino-American youth organization, said no one there wanted to promote violence.

“We are showing the power of people,” Tarona said.

Demonstrators chanted “Donald Trump, go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay” and “Immigrants are welcome here. Don’t give in to racist fear.”

Others carried signs that read “Love Trumps Hate.” Another read “Will trade 1 Donald Trump for 25,000 refugees.”

Also Saturday, about two dozen protesters in Phoenix blocked a highway where Trump staged a campaign rally, blocking traffic for miles before marching to the rally site.

Trump has spoken often from the dais of wanting to punch a protester in the face, carrying protesters out on stretchers and deeming some Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally as “rapists” and “criminals.” He has said he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and it’s risky to take in Syrian refugees because terrorists could be among them.

Trump is competing with Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the Republican nomination. Sanders is competing with former U.S. first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nod.

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