Huge Trump car caravan disrupted some voters in Temecula, authorities say
A massive caravan of supporters of President Trump paraded for 60 miles through Riverside County on Sunday afternoon before converging on a large Temecula sports park, blocking access to the site, which included a vote center, snarling traffic and upsetting some voters, officials there said.
“Law enforcement was contacted to ensure that access to the parking lot and voter assistance center were clear,” Brooke Federico, a spokeswoman for Riverside County, said in an email. “The Sheriff’s Department responded and cleared access to the parking lot and voter assistance center.”
The winding caravan of pickup trucks and other vehicles adorned with pro-Trump signs and U.S. flags began at a Riverside restaurant and drove west along the 91 Freeway and then south on the 15 Freeway. They had been organized under a Twitter hashtag associated with similar events in other states.
The destination was the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula, a sprawling municipal community center with soccer fields and a skate park — but also a voting location at the adjacent Temecula Community Recreation Center building. An estimated 4,000 people crowded the larger park about 2 p.m. in a peaceful, if boisterous, rally, officials said.
Photos: Election day voting is over but the counting continues.
Capt. Zach Hall with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said his deputies made no arrests but did field a few telephone complaints from voters who said the partisan signs, shirts and other materials potentially violated the 100-foot electioneering rule in state law. The deputies talked to poll workers who said the Trump supporters largely kept their distance from voters.
Deputies also had to scramble to unwind a massive traffic jam in an area where officials weren’t prepared for so many vehicles at once.
“They kind of caught us off guard,” said Hall, who heads the department’s Temecula station. “We had a lot of traffic issues. The infrastructure there is not really designed for that kind of traffic.”
The rally spilled over from the park into a circular driveway near the voting location at the Community Recreation Center.
Hall said Trump supporters had rallied at the park before, when ballots weren’t being cast.
“I don’t think this had anything to do with the polling center,” he said.
A flyer used by event organizers doesn’t mention the voting center or voting but says the facility has “large parking lots” and other areas where Trump supporters could congregate. It encourages them to “drive around the park.” The flyer also warns against unsafe driving en route to the event and to avoid altercations with any of the president’s “haters.”
“PLEASE BE COURTEOUS!” it reads. “Let’s celebrate God, country and 4 more years of Donald J. Trump.”
The parade and mass gathering came the same day Trump supporters gathered in vehicles at another park near Grandview Drive and Newhall Ranch Road in Santa Clarita. Videos of the event on Twitter showed dozens of pickup trucks and vans, some painted with pro-Trump slogans, slowly moving and honking at the intersection.
The events came a day after hundreds of Trump supporters rallied in Beverly Hills. Wearing “MAGA” hats, waving U.S. flags and shouting “four more years” and “turn California red,” the demonstrators gathered at the intersection of Beverly and Santa Monica boulevards.
Times photographer Gina Ferazzi contributed to this report.
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