On Saturday, a pro-Trump "Make America Great Again" rally in Huntington Beach, Calif., turned violent.
The crowd featured an estimated 1,000 Trump supporters and 20 Trump protesters, and most news coverage claimed that members of the anti-Trump faction were the aggressors (see stories here, here, here and here). But OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, reported a different story.
OC Weekly intern Frank Tristan and photographers Julie Leopo and Brian Feinzimer said they were attacked even before a masked protester pepper-sprayed Jennifer Sterling, an organizer of the event at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Several fights broke out after Sterling was sprayed, and three people were arrested on suspicion of illegal use of pepper spray. A fourth person was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery.
Tristan and Denise De La Cruz wrote about the incident for OC Weekly:
Right now, the world is hearing a tale from Huntington Beach of a pro-Donald Trump rally that erupted in violence after a masked anarchist pepper-sprayed one of the march organizers, Jennifer Sterling, without provocation. Trump supporters are crowing that they gave counter-protesters a taste of MAGA medicine, and are no doubt emboldened to go after any cucks, snowflakes and SJWs who stand in their way.
Especially if it's the press—namely, the OC Weekly—trying to do our job. ...
[The march] finally rolled out around noon, as about a thousand Trump supporters began moving from Warner Avenue to the bridge right before Seapoint Street. But not everyone at Bolsa Chica State Beach got the memo. Many beachgoers looked perplexed as the #MAGAmarch filled the nearly two-mile bike trail. As it headed south, counter-protesters formed a wall along the bike trail, holding a banner and trying to block the coming crowd. Trump supporters began pushing through gaps, and a struggle ensued. One of the female counter-protesters pants fell down during the scrum, as Trump supporters began laughing. "I just saw your cooter," one lecher snickered. "That's illegal!"
Fighting broke out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters, with videos showing each side giving as good as they got. Two African-American male counter-protesters (let's call them the Twins) were torn away from their comrades, and Trump supporters began pushing them, with one fat guy in an orange T-shirt shoving his portly chest against one of the Twins. Another Trump supporter even tried to jab his flag pole into the face of the other Twin, at which point the other Twin grabbed the flag from his hands and threw it to the ground. Trump supporters kept confronting the Twins, until someone sucker-punched one of them with brass knuckles and another jabbed Weekly intern Tristan in the face. In the ensuing chaos, a middle-aged Trump supporter called one of the Twins "nigger" and another was called a "spic."
State Park Peace Officers yelled at the Twins to head to the sidelines, but they both fled the scene; one later stated, "We knew what the cops wanted to do with us because they were clearly defending the violent Trump supporters."
"I'm not going to say I didn't expect it," he continued. "At the end of the day, they're emboldened by a leader who supports them and they're enabled by state-sponsored racists. "I think regardless of us being assaulted, anti-fascist protests need to go on. Regardless if we're outnumbered, we still need to protest."
Then came the pepper spray.
If you believe the Trump supporters, the pepper spray came out of nowhere, unprovoked. But thanks to the beauty of YouTube, the below video shows the truth.
Here's that video:
OC Weekly summarized what happened.
While protestors are chanting "USA! USA!" a Trump supporter in a goatee points to a man in a Desert Storm cap and tells his friend (let's call him Trump Friend) that the cap-wearing fellow (let's call him Cap Guy) pushed a woman "on her ass." Trump Friend then shoves Cap Guy, at which point a young man wearing a black beanie tries to intervene. Trump Friend then starts punching the young man, with other Trump supporters jumping in.
The young man? Weekly intern Tristan. Cap Guy? Weekly photographer Brian Feinzimer. His alleged push of a woman? He took away a flag from a lady in a cream-colored sweater who had swatted Weekly photographer Julie Leopo with it, then was waving it wildly in front of Feinzimer's camera. He threw it on the ground; she grabbed onto him. He raised his arm to shake her off; she fell forward to the ground. There, she found her flag, tried to whack it at Feinzimer, and walked away to wave the flag elsewhere.
This is when Trump Friend jumps in.
Fox 11 in Los Angeles provided aerial footage of the melee.
On Sunday, some news outlets including the Los Angeles Times updated their stories, and OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano released a statement: “My photographers and intern were just trying to do their jobs. For that, they got harassed by Trump supporters, then shoved and punched when they tried to defend each other. ... I’m proud of them, and we will not be silenced by biddies or bros.”
On Monday, Sterling appeared on "Fox and Friends."
Sterling said the event was intended to bring people together to show their support for President Trump his agenda, and our nation's military and first responders.
"It was a beautiful, beautiful celebration," Sterling said. "It was just unfortunate that we had a few bad kids out there that decided to be bullies."
She said that approximately 20 "thugs" wearing masks showed up, and they were looking for trouble.
It didn't take long for scuffles to break out and for some of the protesters to use pepper spray.
"They were violent bullies, and they were the ones that were arrested," Sterling said. "Not anyone in our group was arrested."
The pro-Trump arrest figure could change. Talk radio personality Tom Leykis has offered a $5,000 reward for information about the person who hit Tristan.
— GustavoArellano (@GustavoArellano) March 27, 2017
Welcome to the divided state of America.