Demonstrators face off at Trump rally in California

Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators clash outside a campaign event for the US presidential candidate in San Diego on May 27.
Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators clash outside a campaign event for the US presidential candidate in San Diego on May 27.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN DIEGO (AFP) - Thousands of pro- and anti-Donald Trump demonstrators faced off Friday (May 27) outside a rally for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in San Diego, with police out in force to head off violence.

Authorities said three people were arrested, including one for trying to climb over a railing, but there was no major violence or mass arrests as at Trump rallies in other cities.

Following the real-estate magnate's speech inside the city's convention center, police ordered the crowd to disperse, judging it an unlawful assembly. But many demonstrators from both camps refused to leave.

Several skirmishes erupted as both sides jeered and heckled each other, with some protesters throwing water bottles and rocks.

One pro-Trump demonstrator was seen using pepper spray against another demonstrator.

Dozens of police officers in riot gear stood between the two groups and at one point moved in to force the crowd to leave the area around the convention center.

Authorities in San Diego earlier designated separate demonstration zones for the two sides to prevent them mixing.

"I am opposed to the hateful, bigoted, racist language of Donald Trump and his arrogance and intolerance," Martha McPhail, one of the protesters, told the local City News Service (CNS). "I'm for all of our people - all races, sexes, genders, military veterans - and he's divisive."

Riley Hansen, a 19-year-old Trump supporter who was selling T-shirts of the candidate, said it was time America voted for a businessman. "My dad always told me you need a businessman as president," he told CNS. "I like his policies."

Protests in New Mexico turned violent on Tuesday, prompting fears of a similar outbreak of violence at Trump's campaign appearances in California this week.

Earlier on Friday, hundreds of demonstrators had also gathered at another Trump campaign appearance in Fresno, in central California, during which the bombastic candidate reiterated his vow to build a wall to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the United States from Mexico.

News reports said two women were arrested after refusing to leave the area following the rally.