Pro-Trump and anti-fascist protesters clash in Pacific Beach

Trump supporters gather in Pacific Beach for a "Patriot March" and are met by anti-fascist counter-protesters Saturday.
On Saturday, Antifa members clash with a person on the boardwalk just south of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. A crowd of anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter supporters were there to oppose a pro-Trump “Patriot’s March” there.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego police declared an unlawful gathering but later allowed Trump supporters to march


About 100 Trump supporters and 100 counterprotesters, some of whom described themselves as anti-fascists, stood off with San Diego police for hours in the heart of Pacific Beach Saturday, with officers trying to keep the opposing groups apart following skirmishes.

The dueling demonstrations shut down Mission Boulevard near the Crystal Pier. Police declared the gathering “unlawful” and ordered the crowds to disperse about 2:30 p.m.

Police Lt. Shawn Takeuch said Sunday that two adults were arrested on suspicion of failing to disperse and a juvenile was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer.

Police reported on Twitter that officers had been struck by a glass bottle. Rocks and eggs were also thrown at police, and pepper spray was deployed in their direction from the crowd, police said. They did not say who was responsible.

At one point, officers fired what appeared to be pepper ball rounds into the anti-fascist crowd during a confrontation.

Takeuchi said five officers suffered minor injures that did not require medical attention. A Sketchers shoe store was vandalized when someone smashed a front window.

By 4:30 p.m., supporters of President Donald Trump reconvened on the boardwalk, and police allowed them to march. The marchers yelled profanities and clashed at times with passersby.

“We will continue to monitor both groups to help facilitate peaceful protests. However, we will not tolerate acts of violence,” police tweeted around 5 p.m. “When rocks, bottles, pepper spray and other objects are thrown or used on our officers, actions will be taken against those who commit violent acts.”

The unrest began around 1 p.m., when a crowd of Black Lives Matter supporters and anti-fascists, many of them dressed in black and wearing “antifa” T-shirts and hats, gathered at the pier to counter a pro-Trump “Patriot March” planned for 2 p.m. The march had been scheduled long before the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday.

SDPD officers push back anti-fascist counter-protesters on Mission Boulevard and Garnett Avenue Saturday.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The counterprotesters held signs that denounced Trump, as well as one that said “No Nazis in PB.”

Before the Trump event, some from the anti-fascist side got in sporadic screaming matches with pro-Trump supporters along the boardwalk. At one point, someone slapped the phone out of the hand of a unidentified man on the boardwalk and pushed forward, knocking him down along with a small boy.

Tempers flared at that moment and some non-protesters on the boardwalk moved toward the group, including a man with a dog on a leash barking at the counterprotesters.

Pro-Trump demonstrators stand along Mission Boulevard Saturday event as part of the "Patriot March."
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

One video posted on Twitter showed a man walk to the anti-fascist side and push down a counterprotester who was writing on the street with chalk. When fellow counterprotesters then confronted the man, officers pulled him away and behind the police line.

Both sides wielded pepper spray, and it was deployed at different times during confrontations.

By mid-afternoon about 100 Trump supporters had gathered at the corner of Mission and Hornblend.

Lines of officers separated the groups, with some from the anti-fascist side taunting police with profanities.

Police declared an unlawful assembly about 2:30 p.m. and began asking people to disperse.

SDPD officers setup a security line on Mission Boulevard to keep pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups separate
SDPD officers setup a security line on Mission Boulevard to keep pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups separate in Pacific Beach on Saturday.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Those who remain or return against this lawful order may be cited/arrested and risk exposure to chemical agents & less-lethal force applications,” according to a San Diego Police Department tweet.

The crowds cleared the area by 6 p.m.

Trump supporters stand along Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach Saturday for the "Patriot March."
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)


9:55 a.m. Jan. 11, 2021: This story was updated with additional information about arrests and vandalism, as well as injuries to officers.