When residents from Huntington Beach, California gathered together for an event to support President Donald Trump, first responders and the military, they brought “Make America Great Again” signs and American flags.
Their U.S. Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, came to make a brief speech.
A pull-up bar was set up on the beach by members of the Marines and a few people were testing their strength.
The noontime scene at Bolsa Chica State Beach could not have been more perfectly suited to a peaceful Saturday afternoon to exercise the cherished First Amendment right to peacefullyassemble.
But that was before angry protesters in black “ninja” outfits, wearing bandanas over their faces and carrying cans of pepper spray arrived.
Byron Lopez, 20, who said he is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, told reporters the protesters call themselves the “Antifa” – Anti-Fascists – who were there to stop the march.
— Cindy Carcamo (@theCindyCarcamo) March 25, 2017
The first protester, masked and wearing all black, first attacked Jennifer Sterling, the organizer of the event, aiming pepper spray in her face, and then other participants.
California State Parks Capt. Kevin Pearsall estimated the crowd at about 2,000 Trump supporters and 30 protesters, and also confirmed that pepper spray was used on the peaceful marchers.
Things grew heated, when, unlike on previous occasions when Trump supporters refused to retaliate against attacks by violent protesters, a group of the marchers pushed the protester to the ground.
— budo (@hectorarzula) March 25, 2017
When he was able to stand and began to retreat, he was chased by a few marchers – until he jumped over a fence and ran toward the Pacific Coast Highway where he was immediately taken into custody by California Highway Patrol troopers.
Two other male protesters were also arrested for use of the pepper spray and a female protester was detained on suspicion of assault and battery.
One Trump supporter, Ray Evans, 55, said he was hit with pepper spray as he tried to wrestle a stick away from one of the protesters who was wielding it as a weapon.
Evans was given water by state parks officers to rinse the spray from his eyes.
The husband of a woman who was sprayed admitted to chasing the masked protester and hitting him with a “Trump, Make America Great Again” flag.
Travis Guenther, said, “I hit him five times with the flag over his head. We’re not xenophobic. We’re not racist. We’re just proud Americans.”