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Protests planned for Newport Beach after tense standoff at South Coast Plaza

There was a series of standoffs between protesters and police at a rally at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa late Monday.
There was a series of standoffs between protesters and police at a rally at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa late Monday night.
(Ben Brazil / Daily Pilot)

At least four protests were scheduled Wednesday in Newport Beach after similar demonstrations were held at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa as well as in Anaheim, Brea and Santa Ana in the previous days.

On Monday, there was a series of tense standoffs between police and protesters outside South Coast Plaza.

Protesters originally met at Bear Street and Sunflower Avenue across from the upscale shopping mall about 8 p.m. to demonstrate against racism and Minneapolis police officers’ involvement in the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

The crowd gathered in defiance of a second overnight curfew put in place by city officials after looting and rioting shook neighboring Huntington Beach and Santa Ana over the weekend. A few incidents of looting occurred in Santa Ana, but demonstrations were largely peaceful.

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In Costa Mesa, protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and held signs reading, “Help I can’t Breathe” and “No one is free until all of us are free.”

The demonstration began peacefully, with many saying they hoped for a protest devoid of violence. Some aimed for solidarity with police.

“It’s not us against cops, it’s us against racists,” said Adam Robinson, 21, of Costa Mesa.

Social media posts show the first planned event Wednesday in Newport Beach is at noon at MacArthur Boulevard and East Coast Highway, at the northern end of Corona del Mar.

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Another protest is scheduled at 2 p.m. at Newport Pier. Two others are set for 5 p.m., one on the pedestrian bridge over San Miguel Drive at Civic Center Park near City Hall, and another at the Back Bay. A more specific location for the Back Bay demonstration was not provided.

All of the demonstrations are being promoted as peaceful protests. The one on the Civic Center Park bridge is billed as “family friendly,” for “raising anti-racist kids.”

Newport Beach police are aware of all four demonstrations and had not planned any street closures in advance Tuesday, said department spokeswoman Heather Rangel. The city also had not preemptively called for any curfews.

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The damage to some businesses in Santa Ana sparked debate in the community.

“They destroyed for their game and not the cause,” said Alexander Rodriguez, 25, who stood outside a Smart & Final on Edinger Avenue with smashed-in windows Monday. “They don’t care how the world sees us.”

“It puts us in a bad position,” said 40-year-old machinist Antonio Ortiz, who remained in his truck. “What did we win from all this?”

“I tell my kids all the time about using their voice,” said Santa Ana High School history teacher Ann Huizar. She picked trash out of bushes alongside her son. “But it needs to be in a constructive way.”

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At O’Reilly Auto Parts, store manager Miguel Briceño spoke through the crack of a boarded-up door.

“They don’t listen to our silent protests,” the 38-year-old said, “so maybe they’ll listen to this.”

In Los Angeles on Tuesday, protests centered in Hollywood and downtown were largely peaceful compared with with earlier demonstrations that devolved into the destruction and looting of businesses.

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Hundreds more were arrested, mostly for violating curfew when protesters refused to leave. But initial reports showed far less looting and vandalism than in recent days.

Brazil and Davis write for Times Community News.


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