How bad could a Trump rally get at the Anaheim Convention Center a day after an Albuquerque, New Mexico rally erupted in unrest? The Donald seemed ever the provocateur by returning to OC’s most riot-happy city a month following the Fracas at the Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and law enforcement had one thing going for them. The rally took place between 12-2 p.m., keeping most people away with school or work. Ugly confrontations between protesters and Trump supporters managed to break out anyway.
The day started on a relatively tranquil note. “Get your free Trump posters, everybody,” Victor Valladares, our intern, declared. Valladares stood outside the entrance of the Anaheim Convention Center with a Trump piñata while handing out copies of our infamous Donald donkey show Weekly cover. Fans of the Donald took the posters unwittingly. One man holding a “Hispanics for Trump” sign finally figured things and stomped it on the ground in front of media cameras!
Police briefly detained Carlos Silva, a marine veteran, for “looking suspicious.” They asked if he had any weapons while searching his backpack, but ultimately let him go. “Make sure you control your dog,” the cops said to Silva. Now if only Anaheim police had done the same on Anna Drive back in July 2012!
Across the way, more protesters gathered along Katella Avenua in a designated protest zone. The size of the crowd swelled to its peak of about 200 but there wasn’t much action. Anaheim police briefly detained another brown man, this time Naui Huitzilopochtli. The longtime activist videographer previously got the boot from Trump’s Pacific Amphitheater when recognized by anti-immigrant Know Nothings. The same thing happened, more or less, inside the Anaheim Convention Center. “The Minutemen know me and they told Trump’s security,” Huitzilopochtli said after being released from questioning. “They grabbed me and took me outside.” The activist says he did nothing to disrupt the rally. “It’s because I’m Mexican, what more?” Huitzilopochtli also got ejected from an Anaheim city council meeting in April discussing a resolution denouncing Trump’s rhetoric.
Other than that, the action stayed pretty tame. Christian fundamentalist street preachers blared their biblical babadas while protesters marched around them in circles. The main man on the bullhorn turned his sermon into an anti-immigrant rant saying, “I wonder why they want to build a wall?” A tense standoff followed with plastic bottles being thrown until police escorted the preacher and his people away from the scene. Protesters next ripped a Trump piñata to pieces throwing candy everywhere in pure revelry, but the fun would soon come to an end.
The heavy presence of multiple law enforcement agencies, including Orange County Sheriff deputies, got into formation sealing off protesters from marching up towards Harbor Boulevard where Trump supporters exited the rally—and where all those precious upscale resort area hotels reside, too! Without any real outbreaks of violence, vandalism, or anything approaching a riot, a loudspeaker from the police helicopter above declared an unlawful assembly around 1:45 p.m. anyway.
Equestrian units pushed protesters, who numbered no more than 80 at the time, steadily down the street. Seven adults and one minor got taken in custody throughout the day. Despite the police strategy to move crowds when the Trump rally wrapped up, scattered confrontations broke out anyway. On the backside of the convention center, 15 protesters traded words with an entire multi-level parking structure full of Trump supporters hanging over the sides. “Build the wall!” they chanted. Protesters hurled objects at the structure before riot police marched down West Street. “U-S-A! U-S-A!” the chants continued, a lasting image from the day’s events.
Anaheim police confirmed three arrests throughout the day for selling shirts without a business license and urinating in public. Other reported arrests for unlawful assembly are unconfirmed at this time. With Trump the presumptive nominee, his supporters are feeling more emboldened as evidenced by the parking structure shout-down. Their beloved demagogue has momentum leading into the convention this summer and the November presidential elections. A fast-paced political phenomena continues to unfold. Where it ends up? Nobody knows. Hopefully not back in OC anytime soon.