By Patrick T. Fallon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Reuters) – Supporters of President Donald Trump holding a rally on a popular southern California beach clashed with counter-protesters on Saturday.
Multiple fights broke out and, according to local media, at least one Trump supporter was doused with pepper spray when pro-Trump demonstrators marching along Bolsa Chica State Beach encountered a small group opposed to the Republican president who had gathered to denounce the rally.
The fights appeared to start in the early afternoon when a dozen anti-Trump protesters dressed in all black refused to move from a bike path to allow a larger group of pro-Trump supporters taking part in the Make America Great Again rally to pass. The confrontation escalated into a fight with more skirmishes quickly breaking out.
At least one person was pepper-sprayed by an anti-Trump protester, local media reported. The Los Angles Times identified the woman who was sprayed as an organizer of the rally, which drew hundreds of Trump supporters to the stretch of coastline located south of the ocean-side community of Huntington Beach.
Known as Surf City, U.S.A., Huntington Beach is located some 40 miles (64 km) south of Los Angeles.
Video footage from social media uploaded to the newspaper’s website showed a chaotic scene with men fighting in the sand and a group of around 20 Trump supporters, some carrying Trump flags, chasing a man in a black mask away from the beach and on to a freeway. The man was stopped by members of the California Highway Patrol, the newspaper said.
The masked man had used the pepper spray and was set upon by a group of Trump supporters, the newspaper reported.
Members of the California State Parks police appeared to arrest two of the black-clad individuals, but the number of arrests was unclear.
The Huntington Beach Police Department directed questions from Reuters about the incident to the California State Parks police, who could not immediately be reached for comment. The California Highway Patrol could not immediately be reached for comment.
Demonstrations denouncing the Trump administration have drawn hundreds of thousands since he took office in January. Smaller rallies have been staged across the country in support of Trump.
On Saturday, Trump praised his supporters.
“Thanks you for all of the Trump Rallies today. Amazing support. We will all MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” He said in a message on Twitter.
(Reporting by Patrick T. Fallon; Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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