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Laguna Beach braces for far-right rally Sunday at Main Beach

Laguna Beach is bracing for a far-right rally Sunday at Main Beach, which sparked a counter-protest against racism on Saturday.

A group of about 300 people from around Orange County gathered in Laguna Beach on Saturday as a preemptive response to the far-right rally.

That event is scheduled for Sunday evening. Right-wing activists say it is designed to focus attention on what they say are victims who have died because of DUI accidents and gang-related crimes from people living illegally in the U.S. Organizers said the rally also will protest “cheap labor” from immigrants here illegally.

The last anti-illegal immigration demonstration in Laguna Beach was on July 30, when protesters called for erecting a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. There were no arrests associated with that or the previous two rallies held in the city by the group, according to Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota.

The counter-protesters called their demonstration of solidarity and strength before the America First! rally.

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Saturday’s event, officially dubbed “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together,” began at 10 a.m. with about 150 people listening to speakers and standing along Coast Highway. The crowd grew to an estimated 300 people at its peak before it dispersed around 12:15 p.m.

According to a Facebook post announcing the rally, it was organized by Indivisible OC 48, Indivisible OC 46 — two groups that have protested President Trump and conservative Orange County politicians — and Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman.

“Tell your friends that being here today means you won’t be dancing with the bad guys tomorrow,” Iseman told the crowd. “They want a fight; we’re not going to engage.”

The demonstrators were met primarily by drivers honking in support as they stood along Coast Highway with an array of signs.

Brittany DeArmond stood silently on the grass holding a sign that read “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” in a variety of bright colors and a scattering of pink hearts and American flags.

She said she had traveled from Irvine for the rally because she felt powerless after a woman was killed Aug. 12 while protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“We should all be treated fairly,” DeArmond said, “not based on what we look like. All people have hurt and all people have happiness.”

Another sign said, “Make America Human Again.” Some focused on the country’s history of fighting Nazis and fascism during World War II.

At various times the crowd shouted, “Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like.” Other chants denounced racism.

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