A “Make America Great Again” march today in Huntington Beach, California turned violent when anti-Trump protesters, who were trying to block the march, used pepper spray against march participants. According to this report from the Orange County Register:
As the marchers, many in MAGA hats or carrying American flags, walked down the bike path from Pacific Coast Highway and Warner Avenue, about a dozen protesters wearing black masks formed a wall blocking them.
The situation got ugly and lasted for about a half hour; after much yelling, shoving, pushing and punching, some protesters pepper-sprayed a group of marchers.
One of those sprayed was Jennifer Sterling, a march organizer.
Some of the marchers fought back. They chased a man with pepper spray. When they caught him, they punched and kicked him.
Protesters claim that pepper spray was used only because they were being pushed and shoved. However, some marchers dispute this account. From what I can tell, it is undisputed that protesters tried physically to block the march.
The local police arrested four people. According to the Orange County Register, three male protesters were charged with felony illegal use of pepper spray and one woman was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and battery.
The protest was organized by the Socialist Party of America. One of its members claimed that the protest was intended to be peaceful. He said:
We were not about to start something when we are 10 people and they are a thousand. That would be suicidal.
But it’s disingenuous to claim you don’t want “to start something” when you try to block a march. There is also a credibility problem when you wear black masks to a protest you say is supposed to be peaceful.
There have been anti-Trump marches all over in America. I haven’t seen reports of Trump supporters, with or without masks, trying to block them. It certainly didn’t happen at the various marches here in Washington, D.C.
The anti-Trump group “Indivisible OC 48” has the right line on protest activity. It stated:
Indivisible OC 48 believes that the most effective way to combat an agenda built on discrimination and divisiveness is to focus on our own positive and peaceful political actions, and not to engage in confrontations with other citizens exercising their rights to free speech.
I don’t know which group is the outlier in the anti-Trump movement, Indivisible OC 48 or the Socialist Party of America. I do know that elements of the movement are enemies of free speech and of freedom generally.
UPDATE: I just learned from Dave Begley, our man in Omaha/Council Bluffs, that anti-Trump protesters behaved similarly at a pro-Trump rally in Omaha. Eight protesters were arrested on suspicion of crimes such as disorderly conduct, carrying a concealed weapon, unlawfully throwing fireworks, and committing acts tending to incite a riot.