Several hundred protesters opposing Donald Trump gathered Friday outside the hotel where he was scheduled to speak to California Republicans, and a large contingent of police sought to head off violence like what followed a rally in Southern California the night before.
A man wearing a Trump campaign "Make America Great Again" red hat was struck while being jostled by a group of shouting protesters.
"It went gangbusters. They attacked me," said Chris Conway, who identified himself as mortgage broker from San Mateo.
A dozen protesters linked arms to block the road in front of the hotel near San Francisco International Airport, but no one was using the street because police had already closed it to traffic. Protesters also draped a large "Stop Hate" banner outside the hotel.
In Southern California, violent demonstrations led to 17 arrests as the Republican presidential contender brought his campaign to conservative Orange County on Thursday.
While Trump held a rally at a fairgrounds amphitheater, dozens waved anti-Trump signs outside in mostly peaceful protests and traded insults with masses of the candidate’s supporters who had lined up to see him. Later in the evening, however, the protests swelled and grew rowdy and spilled into the streets.
One Trump supporter had his face bloodied in a scuffle as he tried to drive out of the arena. One man jumped on a police car, leaving its front and rear windows smashed and the top dented and other protesters sprayed graffiti on a police car and the Pacific Amphitheatre’s marquee.
Dozens of cars — including those of Trump supporters trying to leave — were stuck in the street as several hundred demonstrators blocked the road, waved Mexican flags and posed for selfies. Some protesters badgered Trump’s fans as they walked to their cars in the parking lot.
Police in riot gear and on horseback pushed the crowd back and away from the venue. There were no major injuries and police did not use any force. The crowd began dispersing about three hours after the speech ended.
Seventeen people were arrested, Costa Mesa police Sgt. Mike Manson said.
Earlier in the evening, a half-dozen anti-Trump protesters taunted those waiting to get into the venue. Trump supporters surrounded one man who waved a Mexican flag and shouted "Build that wall! Build that wall!" — a reference to Trump’s call to create a barrier between the United States and Mexico to stop illegal border crossings.
At one point, seven shirtless women wearing 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.
"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, referencing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. "He has, like, done nothing to help with gender equality or women’s rights or reproductive rights or anything."
Trump has drawn large crowds across the country, with some of his events marred by protests and scuffles. The Pacific Amphitheatre was filled to its capacity of about 8,000 and a couple thousand more were turned away, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter said.
Earlier this week, a Trump rally in nearby Anaheim turned contentious when his supporters and protesters clashed, and several people were hit by pepper spray. Trump was not present.
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."
Trump was traveling from the rally site to the state’s Republican convention in Burlington in the San Francisco Bay area.
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