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Piñata episode at Trump appearance leads to H.B. resident's resignation from city board

Piñata episode at Trump appearance leads to H.B. resident's resignation from city board
Huntington Beach resident Victor Valladares, in black baseball cap, encourages opponents of Donald Trump to smash a piñata in the candidate's likeness at a rally in Anaheim on Wednesday. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

A Huntington Beach resident resigned Thursday from a community board after he garnered national attention Wednesday when he brought a Donald Trump piñata to a rally for the Republican candidate in Anaheim and encouraged other protesters to destroy it.

Victor Valladares, 30, who since December had served on the city's Citizen Participation Advisory Board — a volunteer group appointed by City Council members to discuss issues of importance to residents and make recommendations — attended the rally at the Anaheim Convention Center as an OC Weekly intern to pass out posters from the alternative publication negatively depicting Trump in a sexual manner.

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Valladares' uncle, who attended the rally with him, gave him the piñata, which, Valladares said in an OC Weekly editorial, he decorated with a swastika and carried at the event.

Valladares said he walked into the arena without any problems but quickly heard unwelcome comments from Trump supporters.

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"They called me an illegal and said things like 'Deport him' and 'Go back to Mexico,'" said Valladares, who last year co-founded Oak View ComUNIDAD, a resident activist group for the predominantly Latino neighborhood, one of Huntington Beach's poorest.

"I know I was going into hostile territory, just being in opposition, but I proved my point that showed the ignorance these Trump supporters are."

He then went outside, passed out more posters and held up the piñata outside the convention center. The episode has been shown in a YouTube video viewed more than 16,000 times as of Thursday morning and featured in local media.

"Everybody please hold up your OC Weekly signs," Valladares called out to a crowd of protesters. "What do you want to do to this piñata?"

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The crowd then began shouting expletives aimed at the presidential candidate and charged at the item filled with Mexican candy before tearing it apart.

Some residents of Huntington Beach took to the Facebook group Huntington Beach CommUNITY Voice on Wednesday to express concerns about a city appointee garnering negative attention.

"I'd rather not have my city appointees participating in embarrassing and disrespectful activities," posted resident Kathy Carrick.

Many of the comments, which have since been deleted, called upon Councilman Erik Peterson, who appointed Valladares to the seven-member Citizen Participation Advisory Board in December, to comment on the matter.

Valladares said it was suggested that he step down from his position on the advisory board Thursday morning. In a Facebook post, Valladares said leaving the position would allow him to focus more on Oak View ComUNIDAD.

Valladares maintains he was within his constitutional rights to speak freely and protest.

"People don't understand this is my job as a paid intern to promote the OC Weekly cover," he said. "In no way, shape or form will there be anything depicting I was inciting violence. As far as me doing something bad to bring negative attention to the city, I don't believe I did. I'm not a politician. I'm just a normal citizen that happened to be interested in what's going on in our local government. For anyone to be concerned about what I do on my private time as an intern for the OC Weekly is crazy."

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