Since President Trump took office, California has been the epicenter of the resistance, home to countless protests, marches, impromptu airport rallies and, of course, commentary of various kinds on Facebook and Twitter.
But it’s all been done at a distance, because Trump has avoided California. Until this week.
Trump will spend Tuesday and a bit of Wednesday in Southern California, visiting prototypes for the border wall he’s vowed to build in San Diego and attending a fundraiser on Los Angeles’ Westside.
What remains unclear is whether his brief visit will bring out major protests. Some anti-Trump activists said they intend some kind of action, but so far there have been no plans for a massive demonstration such as the women’s march last year or some of the immigration demonstrations that clogged the streets of downtown L.A.
Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Horace Frank, who oversees the counterterrorism and special operations bureau, said that although no permitted protests in the form of marches are planned, authorities do expect to see both opponents and supporters out in numbers during a presidential visit.
“We are prepared for anything,” he said.
At least one protest is planned in Beverly Hills area between 4 and 8 p.m Tuesday by a Facebook group, Trump Not Welcome in LA. More than 1,000 people have indicated they will attend. LAPD is preparing for many more protests of various sizes on the Westside. Trump’s earlier visits to L.A. while he was a candidate did bring out demonstrators.
Some protests are also planned for the San Diego area.
Ron Gochez, a political secretary with political group Union del Barrio’s Los Angeles chapter, is organizing the Beverly Hills protest. The same group plans a rally against Trump on Monday evening in San Diego, the day before he arrives in the region to inspect prototypes for his proposed southern border wall. He plans to visit Beverly Hills the same day, where he plans to attend a Republican fundraiser.
As of Friday afternoon, Gochez said, more than a thousand people were following the Beverly Hills protest Facebook page even though he was still unclear about where the protest would take place.
“He cannot step foot in this state and not expect an organized response to denounce him,” Gochez said. “We have dignity and we can only demonstrate that through denouncing Trump and fighting for freedom from fear. We are not just going to stand with our arms crossed while they deport us or attack Muslims or women’s rights.”
California and Trump have been on a collision course since he took office, clashing on immigration, climate change and other issues. The Justice Department last week sued California over state laws aimed at providing sanctuary for those here illegally. Trump and other members of his administration have slammed Oakland’s mayor after she issued a public warning last month that immigration agents were about to conduct sweeps across the Bay Area.
This isn’t the first time a state has so vehemently opposed a sitting president, said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at UC Irvine.
For instance, a cluster of southern states stood in defiance in the late 1950s and early ’60s when the federal government sought to desegregate schools.
Still, California stands out in that “you’ve never had a state as large and as economically and politically important to the nation and the world standing in outright opposition to a sitting president on a number of policies, including immigration,” DeSipio said.
Trump has taken longer to visit California than any other president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. That’s likely because he remains wildly unpopular here, said Caroline Heldman, a political scientist at Occidental College.
“He could visit other states to promote his border wall, but he’s coming to California, the heart of the resistance movement against his presidency, to provoke a fight and throw some red meat to his base,” she said.
Of course, Trump does have his supporters in the Golden State. And a few groups plan to support him at a rally Tuesday morning near the border fence prototypes in San Diego.
Robin Hvidston, executive director of We the People Rising, a Claremont-based organization against illegal immigration, said she’ll be there. She’s heartened by the visit.
“I always point to the fact that more than 4½ million Californians voted for Trump,” she said.
Hvidston said Trump’s visit demonstrates he is serious about the border.
Craig Griffin, a 71-year-old Paramount resident, said he supports the president’s immigration enforcement, but he doesn’t plan to attend any rallies.
He’s hoping any anti-Trump protest will be peaceful.
“I think he’s been doing great,” he said. “He’s been shaking things up.”
Griffin’s neighbor Teresa Ramirez felt differently.
"I don't want him visiting here," she said. "Why is he coming here? What for? To repeat what he's been telling everyone in the country? ... I feel he's just coming here to spit his toxic words.”
Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, hasn’t decided whether she will join the protesters.
Marya Ayloush, a 22-year-old whose father is Syrian Muslim and whose Mexican mother converted to Islam, joined thousands of protesters who converged at Los Angeles International Airport last year to condemn Trump's travel restrictions on predominantly Muslim countries.
She carried a sign that read: "I am a Mexican, Arab, Muslim, Woman. Trump's Boogey Man."
This time, however, she’ll sit it out. Ayloush, a UCLA student majoring in Chicano studies, has finals this week and won’t be able to make it. Still, she said, she supports those who will and said she is aghast at Trump’s visit.
“It’s a slap in the face. He’s coming to our state, not to mediate or to try to have dialogue, but coming to incite,” she said.