Supporters and critics of Donald Trump squared off Wednesday as the presidential candidate held a rally in Anaheim, with police making several arrests after some demonstrators threw objects at them.
After Trump departed, a small group of protesters remained in the area, ignoring orders by police to disperse. One trash can was set on fire, some protesters threw rocks, and large throngs of police were trying to push the remaining demonstrators away.
At least seven adults and one juvenile were arrested over the course of the day, with many taken into custody after police declared an unlawful assembly.
"You can't arrest all of us," one woman shouted. Another group of anti-Trump demonstrators continued to linger, yelling, "Mexico! Mexico!"
Around the Anaheim Convention Center, lines of mounted police moved through the streets, with several dozen protesters in front of them. Some had scarves covering their face, others taunted police officers. By 3 p.m., only a couple dozen protesters remained, with one person tearing down a stop sign near Katella Avenue.
Inside the center, after his speech was interrupted at one point by a protester, Trump paused for a moment and said: "The safest place to be in our country is a Trump rally." He ended his speech to loud applause.
Earlier in the afternoon, a small crowd of Trump supporters who had been hurling racially charged remarks at a large group of demonstrators was escorted away "in the interest of public safety," according to Sgt. Daron Wyatt, an Anaheim police spokesman. The group of about five people was asked to leave by police and did so voluntarily, Wyatt added.
Two people were ejected from the rally by Trump's security personnel, but Wyatt did not know why. Of those arrested, one person was arrested outside the arena for allegedly illegally selling shirts without a license. Two others were arrested on suspicion of urinating in public, Wyatt said.
A shoving match between a different crowd of Trump supporters and protesters was broken up by Orange County sheriff's deputies.
"I think a lot of it was the planning and preparation. We had a very strong uniformed presence from the beginning, which I think set the tone. It helped by keeping the protesters away from the attendees as well," Wyatt said.
One person was ejected from the rally for causing "some sort of disturbance," according to Mike Lyster, a city spokesman.
It wasn't clear whether the person was a Trump supporter or opponent, or exactly what he did, Lyster said.
Outside, the anti-Trump crowd marched in a circle around the group that had been hurling insults at protesters. A large group of sheriff's deputies in riot gear stationed behind police lines was there on standby, Lyster said. The deployment was organized weeks in advance and was not in response to an incident at a Trump rally in New Mexico on Tuesday night, Lyster said.
Before the rally, two men were positioned at the main entrance of the convention center, holding a sign calling for an end to abortion and Islam while a few people holding signs denouncing Trump looked on.
One man with a loudspeaker was pacing in front of a police line, screaming a series of pro-Christian, anti-gay messages, and a small crowd of people chanting against Trump began trying to shout him down.
One Trump backer engaged in a verbal exchange with protesters.
"Are you an illegal?" the man repeatedly asked the anti-Trump crowd members.
Nearly two dozen Anaheim police officers looked on as the confrontation between the two crowds was confined to shouts and chants.
Rogelio Banuelos, a 26-year-old Costa Mesa man holding an anti-Trump sign, said he came to Anaheim to stand up against what he perceived as Trump's hate speech.
"I feel his language is problematic. It's meant to incite fear of the other," said Rogelio, who described himself as an undocumented immigrant. "I don't believe a human being can be illegal."
Near the entrance, a crowd of four Trump supporters holding Bibles and religious signs were trading insults with a large anti-Trump crowd.
Two of the Trump backers repeatedly asked whether the protesters were "illegals."
"You're all going to burn in hell," shouted one Trump supporter who repeatedly hurled anti-gay slurs at the protesters.
Another member of the Trump crowd, 55-year-old Ruben Israel of Los Angeles, said the billionaire wasn't his first choice but he believed Trump was the only candidate who could restore order in America.
Asked why his group was questioning the demonstrators' citizenship, Israel argued many of the demonstrators who incited violence in New Mexico on Tuesday night were probably in the country illegally.
"Why would they cover their faces?" he asked of some of the masked protesters. "Are they going to commit a crime?"
"Let's see some ID. Are you here legally?" Israel shouted at another protester moments later.
Darius Davelius, a 22-year-old from Riverside, said he couldn't score a ticket inside the convention center but decided to come anyway so he could engage in peaceful conversations with anti-Trump protesters.
He said he believed Trump and his supporters were misunderstood, especially about illegal immigration.
Davelius spoke with Alejandro, a 19-year-old from Anaheim who didn't want to give his last name.
"I'm against the rhetoric Donald Trump uses," Alejandro told Davelius.
Alejandro especially takes issue with Trump's anti-illegal immigration rhetoric.
Davelius said Trump never said all people coming illegally from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers, just some.
"We don't need people coming here illegally," Davelius said.
Trump also has rallies scheduled later this week in San Diego and Fresno.
Trump has drawn fierce criticism by claiming that Mexico was sending rapists over the border. Later, he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the U.S. Those comments have drawn angry protesters to his rallies, many of whom are upset by what they say is a campaign fueled by bigotry and fear-mongering.
In several states, protesters have been assaulted at Trump rallies. The businessman's last California event on April 28 in Costa Mesa descended into chaos after demonstrators blocked traffic and hurled debris at motorists.
Seventeen people were arrested, and one Costa Mesa police officer was struck with a rock. Five police cruisers were damaged, officials said.
Orange County seems fertile ground for opposing views on Trump. Although the county is still considered one of the last conservative strongholds in a state that increasingly leans left, an influx of Asian and Latino residents in recent decades has also created a base of people likely to oppose Trump's rhetoric.
A City Council debate over whether to formally denounce Trump also led to an ugly clash outside Anaheim City Hall last month, as protesters and the candidate's supporters exchanged obscenities and fired pepper spray at one another. Television news footage also appeared to show one Trump supporter lunging at a protester with a stun gun, and three women were treated after they were stung by pepper spray.
The council ultimately voted 3 to 2 to take no action on the resolution.
Another racially charged protest turned violent in Anaheim two months earlier, when a planned Ku Klux Klan rally in February ended with three people suffering stab wounds and several others arrested.
Officers dispersed the crowd shortly after a group of protesters swarmed the Klan members, but the Police Department was heavily criticized for not doing more to prevent the violence. The agency did not have a visible presence at the park that day despite advance notice of the rally, and dividers were not erected to keep the counter-protesters separated from the small Klan group.
Wyatt said security measures Wednesday probably would mirror those in place for a Bernie Sanders rally at the convention center Tuesday. That event, however, attracted a crowd of just 1,100, said Wyatt, who added that there were no arrests or demonstrations.
The convention center holds 7,500 people, and there have been few empty seats at Trump events during his march to the nomination.
On Tuesday night, some protesters smashed windows and threw objects at police outside Albuquerque's convention center, where Trump was speaking.
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.
5:10 p.m.: Updated with confirmation that eight people were arrested during the course of the day.
3:52 p.m.: Updated with additional details from Anaheim police on the number of those arrested during protests.
3:31 p.m.: Updated with additional details from the post-rally protests.
2:46 p.m.: Updated with end of rally and arrests made.
1:40 p.m.: Updated with Trump speech and incidents outside.
12:50 p.m.: Updated with more details from protests outside.
12:01 p.m.: Updated with more details from the scene, including on demonstrators being detailed by police.
11:20 a.m.: Updated with more details from scene.
10:30 a.m.: Updated with more details from scene.
9:30 a.m.: Updated with statement from Anaheim police chief
9:15 a.m.: Updated with scene in Anaheim.
7:30 a.m. Updated to note Trump appearances in San Diego and Fresno.
6:27 a.m. Updated with information on New Mexico protests.