A man was charged Tuesday with unlawfully using tear gas during a weekend protest against President Donald Trump on the Santa Monica Pier.
David Nicholas Dempsey, 32, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of use of tear gas and one misdemeanor count of unlawful tear gas activity, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The charges include an allegation that Dempsey has five prior convictions for crimes including second-degree burglary dating back to 2006.
Dempsey was arrested Saturday by Santa Monica police following the alleged attack on anti-Trump demonstrators, and has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records.
The protest began on the beach around noon Saturday, with demonstrators setting up a huge anti-Trump banner in the sand spelling out “Trump Pence Out Now.”
At about 2 p.m. that day, protesters moved from the beach to the Santa Monica Pier and the boardwalk, and were confronted by a crowd of several dozen pro-Trump counter-demonstrators, according to a YouTube video shot by a group, “Be less Stupid.”
The demonstration degenerated into chaos, with pushing and shoving ensuing and a canister being wielded by a man wearing a backwards Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat being sprayed into the Trump protesters’ faces as people began dropping to the ground and scattering.
Although Dempsey was charged with using tear gas, a Santa Monica police spokeswoman told police the substance was actually bear repellent.
The Trump protest was organized by the group RefuseFascism.org and coincided with other protests held across the country on Saturday, including New York City.