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Trump forced from his motorcade amid chaotic protests at CA convention

Date published: Saturday, 30th April 2016

An egg is thrown at a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump during a protest in Burlingame, California

Protesters in California forced Donald Trump to leave his motorcade and walk along a highway on Friday, amid chaotic demonstrations in which activists torched an American flag and set fire to a piñata of the Republican frontrunner.

Hundreds of protesters repeatedly tried to storm the hotel where Trump was due to address the California Republican convention in Burlingame, near San Francisco International Airport.

Some protesters managed to get inside the Hyatt Regency by booking rooms in advance. When inside they unfurled two large Stop Hate banners from the upper floors that could be seen from outside, where protesters hurled eggs, clashed with baton-wielding police, and blocked roads.

With the hotel entrance blocked, the billionaire was forced to exit his vehicle and, guided by secret service agents, cross a freeway on foot and squeeze through a barrier in the fence to access the hotel.

Taking the stage an hour after he was due to speak, Trump made light of the incident, which was captured by TV helicopters. He said he was forced to “come through dirt, and mud and under fences” and compared the experience to that of an illegal border crosser.

The protests followed similar clashes Thursday night at a Trump rally in Costa Mesa, in southern California. Protesters shattered the window of a police cruiser outside Thursday’s rally, just south of Los Angeles, amid clashes with Trump supporters that resulted in 17 arrests and one supporter of the frontrunner emerging with a bloodied face.

Costa Mesa police later said one of its officers was struck in the head by a protester who threw a rock outside Thursday’s rally.

Police officers take a man into custody who was protesting Donald Trump outside the California GOP convention

Friday’s protests in Burlingame appeared less violent. By 3.30pm on Friday, when police had declared the protest to be an unlawful assembly, there had been five arrests.

The back-to-back protests, stretching from just outside Los Angeles to the outskirts of San Francisco, were a stark rebuke of the Republican frontrunner from progressives in California, a notoriously liberal state that is likely to shape the outcome of the Republican presidential election.

California is the last state to vote in the Republican primary, and the contest that awards the most delegates. It is likely to be the state where Trump either sews up his nomination for the White House, amassing enough delegates ahead of July’s Republican national convention, or falls short.

This week’s protests could portend a sustained bout of protest against Trump as he begins to criss-cross California in the the weeks leading up to 7 June.

Friday’s demonstration outside the California GOP convention, in an airport hotel overlooking the San Francisco Bay, was initially restrained. That changed around 11.30am, as the frontrunner was due to arrive at the venue, when the crowd breached a police barrier and surged toward the hotel.

Some activists managed to congregate on a skybridge connecting the hotel to the parking garage, while others threw (organic) eggs.

In a repeat of the previous night’s protests in southern California, many of the activists were waving Mexican flags.

When Trump finally strode on stage he received a raucous standing ovation. The real estate tycoon regaled around 600 of the party faithful with a joke about the Mexico-US border.

“My wife called and said there were helicopters following you,” he said. “Then I went under a fence, and through a fence. It felt like I was crossing the border, actually. I was crossing the border, but I got here.”

In a rambling speech that lasted just shy of half an hour, he talked briefly about the wall he wants to build at the California-Mexico border.

“I can see that beautiful pre-cast plank,” he enthused, “nice and high. If anyone gets up they’ll say, ‘man, how do I get down?’”. He added: “We have to do it. We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally, folks.”

He gave a brief nod to California’s importance this presidential primary season and a glancing mention of such issues as trade. But he spent most of his address slamming his competition, the media, Republican strategists, the political system, even the way Ohio governor John Kasich eats pancakes.

Inside the vast ballroom, where convention-goers had waited patiently for the candidate to appear, Luisa Aranda, 55, told her own story about making her way through the crowds of anti-Trump demonstrators.

The Mexican-American small-business owner runs a property management company in northern California’s Brentwood. She loves Trump, she said, because “he understands economics, he understands business”.

But as she braved the protesters en route to the convention, she said, “they called me a traitor. They cussed me out.” The reason? Her shirt, a plain white number to which she’d attached big black letters proclaiming, “LATINOS FOR THE WALL”.

The opposite sentiment fueled the protests outside, which continued unabated even after Trump departed the venue and Republican convention attendees sat down for lunch.

One American flag was torched during the protests, and an activist also burned a piñata of Trump that are sold in Latino neighborhoods of nearby San Francisco.

Protest organizer Antoinette Chen See said she was proud of the rally, which included topless men and women, two dozen demonstrators locked together blocking a roadway, and a pair of brothers dressed as superheroes – Captain Mexico and a Mexican Winter Soldier.

“We got a lot of people together trying to stop Trump from having a platform,” she said. “Anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-migrant politicians have no place here.”

Many of the protesters who showed up to the California Republican convention for Trump’s speech were high school and college students from local schools.

Allie Atkeson, a junior at Burlingame high school, attended with a group of classmates, all wearing matching tie-dye shirts with anti-Trump slogans. “Trump has this profound intentional ignorance,” she said, admitting that she was cutting school to attend the protest. “I think America has enough hate.”

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