Myriah Towner, Daily Mail, April 29, 2016
Police clashed with hundreds of protesters outside Donald Trump’s rally in Southern California on Thursday night.
At least one police car was smashed up as hundreds of demonstrators–many of them waving Mexican flags–took to the streets outside the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, Orange County where Trump was speaking.
The protesters flooded the street outside the amphitheater with some stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to Trump–bringing traffic to a halt and creating a tense standoff with authorities.
One Trump supporter was pictured with a bloody face after clashing with the anti-Trump activists, many of whom appeared to be young Hispanic people.
The violence in Southern California where Latinos make up a large segment of the population suggests Trump may face more of this in the days to come, as he campaigns ahead of the state’s June 7 primary. Trump currently leads Kasich and Cruz in the California polls, with an estimated 45.7 per cent of voters, according to Real Clear Politics.
Early Friday, authorities said there were no major injuries following the ordeal and that crowds dispersed by 11pm.
Traffic came to a stop as protesters gathered and blocked traffic while carrying signs in the intersection of Fair Drive and Fairview Road, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Photos from the scene showed a visibly bloodied Trump supporter after he was punched in the face as well as several people being arrested and handcuffed by police.
In the chaotic scenes, some of the demonstrators reportedly carried benches and blocked the entrance to the 55 Freeway along Newport Boulevard.
As they blocked traffic, a group of protesters waved both American and Mexican flags while others had signs with messages including ‘Dump the Trump,’ according to the Times.
At one point, a demonstrator was seen stomping on a police car, causing the car’s windows to smash, while another scrawled an expletive and Trump’s name onto a police cruiser. Some of the protesters also reportedly tossed rocks and debris at cars passing by.
Officers in riot gear from the Costa Mesa Police Department and sheriffs on horseback lined a roadway and told demonstrators to clear the road, but many remained in the street.
At one point, seven women wearing no shirts and Bernie Sanders stickers over their breasts entered the square outside the amphitheater.
They said they were protesting Trump’s lack of engagement on issues of gender equality and women’s rights and had slogans such as ‘Dump Trump’ and ‘Gender Equality’ written in marker on their midriffs.
‘I feel like he wants to make America great again, but certainly not for women, for the LBGTQ community or for the lower class,’ said one of the women, Tiernan Hebron. ‘He has, like, done nothing to help with gender equality or women’s rights or reproductive rights or anything.’
During his speech, Trump–apparently unaware of the chaos engulfing the rally outside the theater–told the crowd: ‘Our rallies are the safest place to be on Earth, believe me’, The Guardian reported.
Additional forces from law enforcement agencies had been deployed to deal with tonight’s crowd, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While Costa Mesa officials had also set up an emergency operations center opposite the fairground and amphitheater, with city spokesman Tony Dodero adding earlier, ‘we’re prepared for the worst.’
There were were nearly 200 officers and deputies at the scene, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
However, as the chaotic scenes played out it seemed police were dealing with a larger and more boisterous crowd than expected.
‘It definitely got out of control,’ Megan Iyall, 20, who was visiting from Seattle told the Times. ‘I shouldn’t feel this unsafe.’
She added: ‘I know people are angry and upset but that should not be happening.’
The Republican presidential frontrunner was campaigning on Thursday ahead of the state’s June 7 presidential primary, among the last in the nation.
He is vying for votes in the primary election in hopes of narrowing the gap to the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, before the Republican National Convention this summer.
If he doesn’t reach that number by then, the convention will be brokered, with delegates making a second vote at the convention to determine the nominee.
Trump’s rally earlier at the OC fairgrounds attracted a group of supporters who proudly showed their allegiance to him.
Some supporters were seen waving a ‘Gays for Trump’ sign while other signs read ‘Latinos for Trump’ and ‘Black Christian Women for Trump.’
Meanwhile, protesters voiced their opposition to Trump’s campaign which has been criticized for marginalizing women, Latinos and other ethnic groups as well for his policies on immigration and offensive remarks about Mexicans, claiming Mexico was sending rapists over the border.
Earlier in his campaign, he called for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims’ entering the United States.
The rally on Thursday was set to begin at 7pm but kicked off about a half hour later.
As a large crowd of mostly Trump supporters gathered outside the venue before it started, there were several scuffles between supporters and anti-Trump protesters, according to KTLA.
Trump had kicked off the rally by appealing to conservative California voters with his pledge to crack down on immigration and plans to build a huge wall on the border with Mexico.
He also appeared to take aim at Muslims, sharing a now discredited story about a First World War general who was said to have stopped insurgency by ordering his troops to use bullets dipped in pigs’ blood to kill Muslim terrorists.
‘We’re going to have to get a lot tougher than we are because we have problems,’ he said, according to the LA Times.
He began Thursday’s event at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, by bringing out the families of people allegedly killed by illegal immigrants.
‘They’re unbelievable, they’ve suffered. These are great people,’ Trump said before handing the mic to Jamiel Shaw whose son, a Los Angeles high school football star, was killed in 2008 by someone in the U.S. illegally.
Shaw, who has spoken at numerous rallies, praised Trump’s calls to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and his calls for deportation.
‘When I saw Trump and what he said, for the first time it gave me real hope, gave me real change,’ he said.
‘They all have a very similar story to tell,’ Trump said after Shaw’s speech.
‘People that shouldn’t have been here, people that should have never been allowed to come over the border and they come here like it’s nothing, they walk through it like it’s nothing,’ he said as the crowd chanted ‘build a wall.’
‘We’re going to stop it and we’re going to build a wall.’
Trump also used his speech to criticize former Deputy Chief of Staff and Republican Karl Grove who he described as ‘grossly incompetent’ and a ‘bad guy’ who ‘still thinks Romney won.’
Trump has drawn large crowds across the country as he has campaigned for the White House and some of his events have been marred by incidents both inside and outside these venues.
Earlier this week, a Trump rally in nearby Anaheim, California turned contentious when his supporters and counter protesters clashed, leaving several people struck by pepper spray. Trump was not present.
Trump has drawn large crowds to most of his campaign events, and Thursday was no exception. The Pacific Amphitheater was filled to its capacity of about 18,000 and many hundreds more were turned away.
Ly Kou, 47, of Ontario, said she likes Trump because he has vowed to put the country first.
‘It’s obvious that America loves Trump,’ said Kou, who is from Laos, as she pointed at the waiting throng. ‘This thing about him being racist? Look around the crowd.’