Trump supporters rally in defense of indicted former president in Huntington Beach
In response to the filing of criminal charges against Donald Trump, dozens gathered in Huntington Beach Saturday for a rally in support of the former president that was interrupted when at least one demonstrator was struck in the head with a skateboard.
Trump was indicted March 30 by a grand jury in Manhattan in connection with the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, becoming the first former U.S. president to ever face criminal prosecution. On Tuesday, he appeared in a Manhattan courtroom to plead not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
The charges are typically misdemeanors, but prosecutors elevated them to felonies because they argue the alleged offenses were committed to conceal violations of New York’s election laws.
The details of the case filed against Trump had been under seal Saturday as some of his supporters gathered in front of the pier at Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach. Many of them were convinced the allegations had no merit, though they had not yet been released to the public at the time.
“The impact it will have will ultimately be favorable to Trump,” Huntington Beach resident Kelly Johnson said. “Because the people will see it’s nothing more than a personal attack. Just that — a witch hunt.”
Victoria Cooper of Westminster and Lam Tran of Santa Ana were among several Vietnamese Americans who took part in the demonstration. They said they were prisoners of war who fled persecution from communists in the 1970s and support Trump and other Republicans because they believe Democrats will lead the country toward socialism.
About 50 people joined Cooper and Tran during the rally. Some bore signs, flags or crosses as they chanted “stand up for Trump” and other slogans, occasionally garnering honks and thumbs up from passing motorists.
Palm Springs resident Martha Hart, 70, stays at a second property in Huntington Beach on weekends and stopped to take in the rally as she passed by the pier Saturday. She describes herself as pro-Trump and said all of her friends and relatives do too.
“Everybody I talk to now is supporting Trump ... everyone I know is on the same page,” she said. “I think the charges are a ridiculous joke.”
Another passerby, Huntington Beach resident Sean Olson, 46, said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. But he approved of his leadership and said he dislikes what he has seen so far from the Biden administration.
Olson said he believed the charges filed against Trump were “political grandstanding” on the part of Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg. But, he said, a guilty verdict would cause him to reevaluate his position and should cause other conservatives to do the same.
“I think any case he’s found guilty, that absolutely should [be taken into consideration],” he said. “But until there’s a guilty verdict, that’s pretty tough because in this country it’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”
A few people with bullhorns made repeated references to the gender identity of the suspect in the shooting that left six people dead at a school in Nashville, Tenn. They were heard saying “Hey, tranny [sic], leave those kids alone” and “build the wall.”
Not everyone who encountered the demonstrators was supportive.
Frances Edwards, who identifies as a Christian, was born and raised in Huntington Beach and moved to Northern California about three years ago. She was visiting over the weekend and became upset when she heard demonstrators claim that God was on their side and that Donald Trump was a “king.”
“Nobody is king of the United States, that was the whole point of the constitution,” she told the Daily Pilot after getting into a heated discussion with several Trump supporters. “It just makes me so sad because this is not Huntington Beach.”
The rally was briefly interrupted when a fight broke out at about 12:30 p.m. A handful of people exchanged blows after a group of young men passing by exchanged insults with people at the protest.
One Trump supporter, vocal Orange County conservative Nick Taurus, was left bloodied after he was struck in the head with a skateboard. He was taken to a hospital, while Huntington Beach police took a suspect in the altercation into custody.
The suspect was identified by police as Daniel Salvador Angulo Serrano, 33, of San Bernardino. He was released after posting $25,000 bail, and charges had not been filed against him as of Tuesday.
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