After cops told the crowds to disperse, in English and Spanish, the protesters and Trump supporters started heading home. That is when the trouble started. See how violent they got.
Donald Trump’s rallies in Fresno and San Diego – the latter just 15 miles from where his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border will stand if he wins the White House – were met with violent clashes between police, supporters and protesters Friday.
Legions of protesters – about 1,000 – were waiting for him outside the San Diego Convention Center. Signs reading ‘Trump incites hate’ jockeyed for position with a white banner bearing the words ‘F*** Trump’ in oversize letters. A smaller, but no less passionate group met outside Fresno’s Selland Arena.
Inevitably, things got out of hand: Pepper spray got in eyes, cops jostled crowds with their batons and riot cops pulled people to the ground. At least two people were arrested in Fresno for not complying with police orders.
In San Diego, police moved into the Gaslamp district at about 4.40pm to break up what they said was an unlawful gathering, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Trump had already left the area about ten minutes before, but the crowds weren’t going anywhere at first.
As officers in riot gear entered the area, they announced in both English and Spanish that people needed to disperse. And as protesters and supporters began to swirl, small street-fights broke out among them.
At t least 35 people were arrested. San Diego Police confirmed there was no damage to property and no injuries as a result of the protest.
Earlier, during Trump’s speech, protesters were filmed throwing objects at police, and one man was pushed back into the crowd by cops after trying to climb up to a police-secured location.
The police had gained control of the area by 6pm, the paper reported.
Demonstrators and supporters at Trump’s Fresno speech earlier in the day were fewer in number, but no less feisty.
While Trump denied that California was suffering droughts, saying water was being pumped out to sea ‘to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish’ – a reference to the Delta smelt, an endangered fish supported by environmentalists – protesters outside chanted and waved signs.
Before leaving, Trump promised his crowd that he would ‘opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better.’
Afterward, crowds clashed with police, and two were arrested for failing to disperse.
Phalanxes of flag-bearing activists marched. Some hoisted Mexico’s colors, while others flew banners from Chile, Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world.
One protester waved a Trump piñata from the end of a wooden pole. Another brandished a poster featuring Trump’s likeness and a pair of swastikas.
The protest zone was a sea of on-again, off-again tumult.
For minutes at a time the agitation dimmed to a dull roar, stippled with haphazard chants of ‘F*** Donald Trump!’
Then a group of bandanna-masked activists tried to scale a barricade wall.
Police in riot gear pushed back with arms, shields and batons. One officer used his stick like a pool cue, jabbing anti-Trump forces back onto their side of the divide.
The chant changed: ‘F*** the police!’ rang out across the concrete plaza populated mostly by ranks of armed men, numbering about 300.
Reports emerged of rocks and bottles being hurled at officers. Police did little more than keep the activists in check.
Their task would change as Trump’s speech concluded, more than 10,000 people inside tried to leave, and the ‘Dump Trump’ forces became more urgent.
One protest contingent, about 50-strong, chanted: ‘We didn’t cross the border! The border crossed us!’
The man leading the yelling wore a shirt that read: ‘Make America Mexico Again.’
That was a hat-tip to the ‘Aztlan’ movement, which seeks to hand the entirety of the Southwestern United States to the nation of Mexico as ‘reparations’ for annexing American states that were one occupied by Indian tribes.
Trump, who wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, has angered Latino activists by claiming from the beginning of his campaign that Mexico’s government has sent some of its worst criminals – ‘murderers and rapists’ – to the north, where they blend in with other migrants who sneak into the US illegally.
Southern California is a particularly volatile seat of the discontent that stemmed from those remarks, and from his pledge to wall off America from Mexico in a bid to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs.
The tension inspired by Trump’s appearance grew in intensity because California is one of several Democratic-dominated states that Trump has pledged to contest in the fall, forcing Hillary Clinton and the Democrats to expend resources to hold ground they consider to be theirs exclusively.
The last time California’s electoral votes went to a Republican presidential candidate was 1988.
‘No other Republican would say this, but we are going to play for California,’ Trump said as he took the stage Friday afternoon.
‘We are going to win California! You watch!’
‘Really, we are going to win the state of California,’ he pledged, moments before promising to ‘knock the hell out of ISIS,’ the terror army ravaging Syria and Iraq.
‘People are tired of the Hillary Clintons of the world,’ he said. ‘It’s all talk, no action. It’s “Crooked Hillary,” it’s the same stuff, and our country cannot take another four years of Obama. That’s what you’re going to get.’
‘We’re gonna build a wall,’ he promised, pointing to a sign waved by a Hispanic woman near the stage.
‘Latinos for Trump!’ he read. ‘I love it!’