Racial tensions boil over at weekend ‘White Lives Matter’ rally

Huntington Beach police officers try to separate supporters during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter rallies in Huntington Beach, California on Sunday,
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Huntington Beach police officers try to separate supporters during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter rallies in Huntington Beach, California on Sunday,

Credit: TNS

Racial tensions boiled over at a Southern California beach over the weekend as a White Lives Matter rally clashed with about 200 counterprotesters from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reports said 12 people were arrested at the popular Huntington Beach pier Sunday afternoon when demonstrators on both sides became unruly and police declared an unlawful assembly in the area, according to reports.

The Huntington Beach Police Department was on hand from the start of the event after becoming aware of promotions for a white supremacy rally circulated for several days on the social media platform Telegram. Police officers stood at the edges of the pier plaza as helicopters and drones circled overhead.

Huntington Beach police officers arrest a woman for allegedly possessing pepper spray as protesters gathered to demonstrate against a so-called White Lives Matter rally Sunday in Huntington Beach, California.
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Huntington Beach police officers arrest a woman for allegedly possessing pepper spray as protesters gathered to demonstrate against a so-called White Lives Matter rally Sunday in Huntington Beach, California.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Rally participants, which included supporters of former President Donald Trump, began arriving about 11 a.m. and were largely peaceful, according to the Los Angeles Times, although their numbers were scant.

Soon, several hundred counterprotesters gathered in the early afternoon. By 2 p.m., several confrontations and arguments had broken out between the attendees, Trump supporters and counterprotesters who were gathered along the Pacific Coast Highway.

A group of cyclists and motorists raised their fists and honked their horns in support of the crowd, which chanted, “What do we want?” “Unity!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”

The situation reached a boiling point when a man with a beard and cigar approached the plaza in front of the pier and repeated “white lives matter” several times before yelling at a counterprotester, who held a poster that read “Death to the Klan,” according to the Times.

An argument breaks out during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter ralliesSunday in Huntington Beach, California.
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An argument breaks out during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter ralliesSunday in Huntington Beach, California.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A crowd quickly converged around them and chanted, “Nazis go home,” until the man retreated across the Pacific Coast Highway.

Those arrested faced charges ranging from municipal code violations to fighting in public, and various weapons offenses, Huntington Beach Police Lt. Brian Smith said.

The crowd began to again grow agitated shortly after 1 p.m. when a small group of people waving Trump 2020 flags, American flags and a banner that read “Don’t tread on me” congregated across from the plaza at the base of the pier.

At least 10 mounted police officers and Orange County sheriff’s deputies gathered on the Pacific Coast Highway as people began spilling into the street. A standoff occurred when a man, waving an “All lives matter” flag, began to approach the counterprotesters. He was quickly surrounded and herded away from the pier amid chants of “You are not welcome here.”

Many who arrived at the pier Sunday did so to show opposition to recent white supremacist activity that’s occurred in the city, the Times reported, including violence against Asian citizens.

A young man steals an American flag from a White Lives Matter supporter as a Huntington Beach police officer tries to stop it during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter rallies in Huntington Beach.
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A young man steals an American flag from a White Lives Matter supporter as a Huntington Beach police officer tries to stop it during Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter rallies in Huntington Beach.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Flyers promoting the Ku Klux Klan have also been found circulating in the local communities including Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Villa Park, reports said.

Shortly after the demonstration began, police took three counterprotesters into custody. One was accused of using amplified sound and a second allegedly obstructed police and had in his backpack a metal baton, two cans of pepper spray and a knife, Smith said. A third man was also taken into custody, but Smith could not say why.

A woman was detained about an hour later after she was allegedly found with pepper spray, which is prohibited at a public assembly, Smith said.

Activist Najee Ali described the arrests as a “double standard in the way our protests have been policed ... whether in D.C. or here in Orange County.”

Ali, who was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “I can’t breathe,” said the timing of the White Lives Matter rally was likely connected to the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. “Without question,” he said.

“I’m here from Los Angeles just to show solidarity against racism, hate and intolerance,” Ali said. “It’s important residents of Huntington Beach know they’re not alone and we stand with them.”

Information provided by Tribune News Service was used to supplement this report.