LAPD arrests 6 in clash between pro-Trump, anti-Trump groups

Hundreds gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday and police declared an unlawful assembly

By Bradley Bermont and Emily Rasmussen
The Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — Protesters clashed Wednesday, Jan. 6, in downtown Los Angeles and small rallies played out elsewhere in Southern California while a massive demonstration unfolded amid turmoil at the U.S. Capitol.

Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in front of the Los Angeles Police Department's headquarters, with officers asking the crowd to leave as tensions were high with counter-protesters.

Police declared the rally an unlawful assembly, said Officer Tony Im, a department spokesman.

Officers arrested six people among the crowd, including two on suspicion of disobeying dispersal orders, one person suspected of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, and three others on suspicion of carrying unpermitted items while attending a public demonstration, a city code that went into effect on Election Day in November.

No property was damaged and no injuries among protesters or officers were recorded, police said.

At 9 a.m., the crowd was 300 to 400 strong. By noon, the gathering was winding down, though protesters still scuffled with police and counter-protesters in scattered incidents in the city's urban core.

One counter-protester wearing a Black Lives Matter insignia on his clothing was sprayed with a chemical irritant by a protester. The LAPD confirmed there was a physical confrontation between pro-Trump protesters and counter-protesters.

Haley Lawrence, 27, of Los Angeles, said she saw pro-Trump protesters and counter-protesters pushing toward each other until, eventually, the two sides broke into a small brawl.

"It was very bloody," said Lawrence, who was carrying a "Refuse Fascism" sign.

Mark Perez, a resident of Boyle Heights, was among those who drove downtown, leading a caravan of 50 or so cars from Pasadena.

"Our MAGA (Make America Great Again) flags are on our trucks," he said Wednesday. "We want our freedom. We want to stop the steal."

He said he believed there was election fraud, echoing the complaints of Trump supporters around the country. Legal challenges making similar claims have been rejected in the courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. Most rulings cited a lack of credible evidence.

"Seventy-four million patriots are (upset) because of the election and how the Democrats changed the votes," Perez said. "We're out here, showing Trump that we support him in Southern California, and we're fighting for him because he fought for us for four years."

A few hours later, around 60 protesters gathered in Beverly Hills in support of Trump. Officers declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly late afternoon, shortly after a scuffle between pro-Trump protesters and counter-protesters, but nearly everyone had left by 6 p.m.

"Four more years," protesters draped in American flags and red Make America Great Again hats chanted on the intersection of Canon Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard. Most of the protesters did not wear masks and some even yelled at masked persons in their cars to take their masks off.

"An election was stolen from the American people," said protester J. Benjamin Johnson, with an American flag draped around his shoulder. "We need to express our frustration at our leadership."

Johnson also supported the attempted occupation at U.S. Capitol earlier, saying the American people can't let "communists influence the election through electronic voter fraud."

"Rebellion is in American DNA," he added. "If we feel like something is going wrong, we do something about it."

In other instances, as non-Trump supporters drove by, some right wing protesters surrounded their cars, flipping them off and yelling obscenities at them. Many carried "Stop the Steal" signs and said Trump was cheated out of the election.

Protester Tracy Saysay, 30, said that while he believes there is some voter fraud, he doesn't think there was enough to overthrow an election.

"I still support the movement and to be here in this moment," Saysay, of Beverly Hills, said. "Trump tapped into a forgotten people that Democrats turned away from."

Meanwhile, rallies formed in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, where people waved President Trump flags.

In Newport Beach, roughly 200 people gathered at around 11 a.m. on the sidewalks at Pacific Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard, waving flags emblazoned with Trump's name as passing cars honked.

Officers were about; there were no reports of violence or disorder. The demonstrators kept to the sidewalk and by 1 p.m. had cleared the area.

At the Huntington Beach Pier, a frequent site of pro-Trump rallies, about 100 supporters of the president lined Pacific Coast Highway at one point, waving Trump and American flags at passing cars. Many donned MAGA hats and virtually none wore masks.

Many honked horns in apparent support.

The gathering was peaceful, and counter-protesters had not showed up as of 2 p.m.

Peter Rikard, a Seal Beach retiree who regularly attends Trump rallies, showed up at the pier. He said he didn't agree with vandalism at the Capitol Hill protest and predicted things are going to get a lot uglier in the coming days and weeks.

"Nobody wants violence, but if the government isn't listening to the people, it will happen, "said Rikard, whose leather vest included a "Bikers for Trump" patch. "There is a civil war coming. People are frustrated."

Staff photographers Hans Gutknecht, Sarah Reingewirtz, contributing writer Pierce Singgih and staff reporters Alma Fausto and Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.

(c)2021 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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