'America First' protesters face off with opponents at California beach rally

Conservative demonstrators at the 'America First' rally in Laguna Beach, California, on Aug 20, 2017.
Conservative demonstrators at the 'America First' rally in Laguna Beach, California, on Aug 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

LAGUNA BEACH, United States (Reuters) - Anti-immigration demonstrators faced off against a much bigger crowd of counter-protesters in the Southern California town of Laguna Beach on Sunday (Aug 20), as police kept the opposing sides apart.

Around 2,500 people showed up for what became a raucous shouting match, but which did not descend into the kind of violence seen at this month's clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed.

Police erected barricades along the oceanfront to deter car attacks like the one in Charlottesville, which killed a woman, when a suspected white nationalist drove into the crowd.

Dozens of anti-immigration protesters rallying behind President Donald Trump's campaign slogan "America First" were escorted by police through opposing demonstrators who chanted "Shame" and "No white supremacy".

Mr Trump's opponents blame him for boosting far-right sentiment, forcing the President to deny he tacitly supports racists.

"We are not a white supremacism movement but an 'America First' movement," said Ms Beverly Welch, 56, a health assistant protesting against illegal immigration. "We're trying to save our country."

Police later declared the remaining protesters an unlawful assembly and forced them to disperse. They made three arrests.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people protested in Boston against a "free speech" rally featuring far-right speakers.