Pep Rallies and Protests for Trump on First California Trip Since Election


A scratchy rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” mixed with clips of Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, played as his supporters here celebrated themselves as “deplorables,” enthusiastic gun owners and defenders of Americans from crimes committed by immigrants. They had gathered hoping for a glimpse of the president’s motorcade.

“He said secure the borders, build the wall, everything,” said Julie Horn, explaining her support.

“I think he’s done great,” said her husband, Scott, a retired construction worker.

As Trump supporters in progressive, blue-state California, they said they would have left the state if it had not meant being far away from their grandchildren.

“There are a lot more of us than you realize,” Ms. Horn said. “You don’t put a Trump sticker on your car. Your car will get smashed.”

In rallying the crowd, Jeff Schwilk, the founder of San Diegans for Secure Borders, borrowed a term that is often applied to liberal California in the age of Trump.

“We are the resistance,” he said. “We are the push back to that.”

At the church gathering a few miles away, Representative Juan Vargas, a Democrat whose district includes part of San Diego, delivered a passionate rebuke of the president.

Supporters of President Trump during his visit to see border wall prototypes on Tuesday. Credit David Mcnew/Getty Images

“We have to resist and we have to let him know that California doesn’t welcome him,” he said.

The opposition rally brought together a diverse coalition of faith-based groups, union organizers and immigrant rights activists, urging the audience to stand against the Trump agenda at every turn.

Saying that Jesus was killed because he broke the rules, the Rev. Neal Jose Wilkinson, a pastor in San Diego, made a plea for civil disobedience. “There’s a higher authority than you, Donald Trump!” he said.

And there were softer appeals as well. “I ask you to keep building bridges of love,” said the Rev. Jose Castillo, of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church, where the rally was held. “Of kindness to other people.”

For some, the dueling rallies were an opportunity for political organizing, across party lines. In the morning, one man was gathering signatures at the Trump rally for a ballot initiative to require a supermajority to raise taxes.

In the afternoon, he was at the other rally, with the Trump opponents, wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt and gathering signatures in support of several progressive causes: more money for schools, animal protection, rent control, removal of lead paint from schools. The man, who asked that his name not be used because he did not want to be identified with any political cause, said he worked as an independent contractor for a number of interest groups, gathering signatures for petitions.

A similar division was on display in Los Angeles, where Mr. Trump landed in midafternoon. His motorcade took rain-slicked streets through the city’s West Side, where block after block was shut down at rush hour to make way for the president. Driving through one of the most liberal neighborhoods in the nation, Mr. Trump passed a mix of chanting protesters and supporters, many ignoring the rain for a chance to cheer — or denounce — the president.

The fund-raiser was held at the sprawling mansion of Edward Glazer, an owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his wife, Shari, in Beverly Park, a gated community known as Los Angeles’s most wealthy neighborhood. The cost: up to $250,000 a head. It was expected to raise up to $5 million for Mr. Trump’s re-election effort and the Republican National Committee.

The neighborhood was almost completely blocked off to the public; protesters gathered at a park in Beverly Hills about five miles away. Hundreds of people, many dressed in ponchos, lined the curb, drawing honks of support from cars along Santa Monica Boulevard.

“It just feels so good to scream on the street,” said Tarra Lynne, 60, who dressed as a Russian in a vintage fur coat. “I want him out. Shout it! It feels good.”

Tommy Quintana, 48, a dental assistant from Los Angeles, said this was the first time he had protested against a president. “Not everybody’s gonna get everything they want, but he’s just wrong on everything,” he said. “I don’t know what else to do, you know? You vote, but what else can you do?”

As in San Diego, there were supporters of Mr. Trump on hand as well. “I’m tired of all the handouts,” said Joshua McCutchen, 35. He said he lived in his van, having moved to Los Angeles from Indiana years ago as an aspiring actor before turning to YouTube full time, where he was broadcasting a running commentary on the rally on his channel. “Let’s just make this country great again,” he said.

Mr. Trump stayed at the fund-raiser for about three hours, before heading to downtown Los Angeles, its streets empty and barricaded for the president’s arrival.

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2018-03-13 23:30:38
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