On Saturday — two days after a grand jury indicted former President Trump, securing his place in history as the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges — a small group of supporters gathered in Orange County to protest the indictment.
During the gathering near the Huntington Beach Pier on Saturday afternoon, the group of roughly 40 people flew “Make America Great Again” flags and chanted “God bless Trump!” At one point, two demonstrators were hit on their heads with skateboards during a clash.
Because the indictment remains sealed, the precise criminal charges aren’t yet clear, but the investigation presented to the grand jury in New York focused on Trump’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the final push of his 2016 campaign.
The indictment marks only one of the potential legal problems for Trump, who has declared that he will seek the presidency again in 2024. He also faces investigations into his alleged involvement in 2020 election interference by his supporters and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as his handling of classified documents after leaving office.
Attorneys for the former president said in a statement that their client didn’t commit any crimes and Republican allies have portrayed Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg, whose office presented the case to the grand jurors, as a far-left prosecutor working to ensure that Trump won’t get elected in 2024.
After he was indicted, Trump — who is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday — put out a statement characterizing the indictment as “Political Persecution” and a “Witch-Hunt” fueled by “Radical Left Democrats.”
Some of the demonstrators on Saturday echoed such language, referring to what they called a “fake indictment” and “just a sham.”
A few minutes after noon, two demonstrators were hit with skateboards. One of the victims — a man who had been leading the chants — was bleeding from the head but ambulatory. The other refused to give his name to a Times reporter.
Huntington Beach police initially detained two men at the scene. Huntington Beach Police Department spokesperson Jessica Cuchilla said one person was taken into custody.
She said one of the victims was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and that the incident was under investigation.
One of the demonstrators, who identified himself as 18-year-old Joseph Edward of Redlands, said he witnessed the attack against his fellow demonstrators and said it was unprovoked.
“It was intended to be peaceful,” Edward said. “We don’t want this. We don’t want it to happen again.”
Around two dozen protesters gathered on the corner of Veteran Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard outside the Federal Building on Saturday afternoon sporting American flags and pro-Trump signs. Chants of “We love Trump” blared through a pair of bullhorns.
The scene was peaceful, save for a man in a BMW who threw a water bottle at the crowd as he drove by.
Michelle Henney, a Westside resident who said she was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, called the indictment a witch hunt.
“If he had a booger in his nose, they’d arrest him for indecent exposure,” she said.
Times staff writers Sarah D. Wire and Arit John contributed to this report.
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