Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton urged President Trump to delay a campaign-style rally set for the city next week, expressing fear that his appearance would “enflame emotions” while “our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville.”

The request made in a statement Wednesday was a measure of the extraordinary passion stirred by Trump’s equivocal comments on the white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in the violence last weekend at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It was hard to remember when, if ever, the mayor of a major city asked a sitting president to stay out of town lest he cause trouble.

Protests over Confederate symbols have erupted in several cities, following white nationalist violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

Stanton, a Democrat, also expressed concern that Trump might use the visit to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Arpaio, a Trump ally who shares the president’s zeal on undocumented immigrants, has been convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order and is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 5. Trump has said he’s considering a pardon for Arpaio, a deeply divisive figure in Phoenix.

“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” Stanton’s statement said. “If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon” for Arpaio, “then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation.

Former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio ignored a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

“It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit,” Stanton said.

If he does not, Stanton said his “focus and that of the Phoenix Police Department” will be on “keeping everyone — those attending the rally, those expressing their First Amendment rights outside and the general public — safe.”

Trump had promoted his Phoenix visit in a tweet Wednesday evening.

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