Hundreds of protesters expressed their rage at Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump outside his rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday, taking to the streets, throwing rocks at police and attacking cars on the road.
Protesters first gathered at a spot adjacent to the convention center, but eventually spilled into the street. They were quickly met with a massive presence of police officers in riot gear, and by around 1:30 p.m. the police had declared the protest an unlawful assembly.
The scene was far angrier than the protest last month outside a Trump rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. That event, save for the thrashing of a police car, felt more like an unruly block party as protesters sang and line danced.
It was different this time. Trump supporters did not shy away from the protesters, with the confrontations at times leading to violence. A woman smacked a Trump supporter in the head with her wallet, and a protester kicked a large dent into a van full of Trump supporters.
However, the violence outside the Anaheim event didn't reach the level reported in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where cops were injured in a melee with protesters the previous night. Police there also fired pepper spray and smoke canisters into the crowds.
In Anaheim, protesters set a “Make America Great Again” hat on fire, and they tried but failed to set a trash can ablaze. They ripped apart a piñata bearing Trump’s resemblance and filled with Mexican candy, and they raised its head on the end of Mexican -- and then American – flagpoles.
A journalist with the Spanish-language Estrella TV fell and hit his head on a sidewalk curb amid the shoving, and his station claimed that one of the police horses – there were dozens of mounted officers – had injured him. He soon fell into a seizure, and a few people trying to help the man pleaded with a line of officers to assist, but the officers didn't move. Eventually, officers cleared the area around the man and, after about 15 minutes, an ambulance arrived.
Wednesday's rally came 13 days before the June 7 California presidential primary. And though Trump has all but locked up the GOP nomination, his events are still drawing large crowds. The thousands packing the convention center dwarfed the crowd Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton drew earlier in the day at an event up the road in Buena Park.
It is not at all surprising that a Trump rally would lead to violence in Anaheim, a town that is more than half Latino. He launched his upstart campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and killers, and he’s also called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. His rallies in the months since have often triggered unrest.
In the clashes between supporters and opponents of Trump outside the Anaheim rally, those who were pro-Trump at times accused protesters of being illegal immigrants. “Are you even a citizen of this country?" one shouted.
Earlier in the day, protesters surrounded a preacher with a megaphone who was calling on them to repent and accept Jesus Christ. Nearby was a tall black flag calling on the country to “stop abortion, stop sodomy” and to “halt Islam.”
“All I’m looking at now is a bunch of little devils in people,” the man yelled at the protesters mocking him. “When [Jesus] comes, he won’t be coming with mercy! He’ll be coming with fire!”
Meanwhile, at the entrance to the rally, a handful of protesters argued with Trump supporters, who claimed that Trump’s detractors were distorting his comments.
Jake Towe -- a 17-year-old Trump supporter who said he attends Trump rallies across the country to “shut down the protesters” – said Trump isn’t racist and only called “some” Mexicans rapists, and noted that some white people are also criminals.
Towe said he supported Trump because the country is facing a real threat from Islamic terrorists who are “chopping Christians’ heads off” and turning girls into sex slaves.
Towe accused the Trump protesters of hypocrisy. “You talk about love, but there’s literally a song called Fuck Donald Trump,” Towe said in a reference to the rap song by YG & Nipsey Hussle that has become the anthem of anti-Trump protests.
Police slowly pushed the protesters down Katella Ave., and by late afternoon, most had dispersed.
A couple dozen remained, however, occasionally throwing rocks at officers. A line of police behind a row of bushes tried to sneak up on a few protesters shouting anti-police obscenities, but the protesters spotted them and ran off.
Police spokesman Sgt. Daron Wyatt said that a total of nine adults and five minors were arrested.