Violent protests outside California Trump rally

Posted at 3:49 AM, Apr 29, 2016

Protests broke out Thursday night as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brought his campaign to Southern California following his Northeast GOP primary sweep.

Raucous crowds of protesters took to the streets in Orange County as Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul who is close to clinching the GOP presidential nomination, gave a campaign speech at the Pacific Amphitheater.

Heated words were exchanged as Trump supporters clashed outside with counter-demonstrators.

Trump has drawn large crowds across the country as he has campaigned for the White House and some of his events have been marred by incidents both inside and outside these venues. The brash businessman on occasion has directly challenged protesters from the podium, saying they should be expelled.

On Thursday night, heated words were exchanged after people wearing expletive-laden anti-Trump shirts began to taunt people waiting in line to attend his speech at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

Things had been calm initially — before the speech — as vendors hawked T-shirts, visors, pins and Trump bobble-head figurines, while activists set up stands to help register voters. But before long, Trump supporters surrounded anti-Trump protesters, shouting "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 crossers.

Later, county sheriff's deputies in riot gear and on horseback formed a barrier between a small group of anti-Trump demonstrators and the pro-Trump crowd.

Police said at one point there had been no arrests. But authorities declared an unlawful assembly and at least one person was taken into custody as protesters and others blocked streets outside the political rally.

The front and back windows of one police car were smashed as protesters and others grew increasingly unruly in the aftermath of Trump's speech.

At one point a fistfight broke out when someone grabbed the hat of a Trump supporter who tried to get it back. The man's nose was bleeding badly afterward.

The protesters included a group of seven topless young women who wore only stickers to cover their breasts. They also had slogans such as "Dump Trump" and "Gender Equality" written in marker on their midriffs.

At its peak the crowd was in the hundreds. Later dozens remained in the streets and dozens of cars were stopped with their engines off as they waited.

An intersection was blocked by protesters and dozens of cars were stuck as the crowd flooded the street, chanted and waved flags just after Trump's speech and rally ended. Trump supporters were also in the mix and many other people milled on the surrounding sidewalks.

Trump has drawn large crowds to most of his campaign events, and Thursday was no exception. The Pacific Amphitheatre was filled to its capacity of about 18,000 and many hundreds more were turned away and couldn't get into the event. Several dozen protesters remained outside chanting anti-Trump slogans as the candidate took the stage at about 7:40 p.m. PDT, for the event scheduled for 7 p.m.

An aura of excitement held sway in the early evening as fans lined up outside the venue hours before the doors opened. Some drove more than an hour to get a glimpse of the man they described as a patriot, business wizard and astute negotiator.

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.