Demonstrations for and against President Donald Trump were held in the Southland amid calls for the president’s ouster three days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a melee that resulted in five deaths.
The group Refuse Fascism held a demonstration and “car caravan” starting at noon Saturday in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, part of a nationwide series of demonstrations. Protesters gathered downtown to put orange posters on their cars reading: “Trump/Pence Out Now” and “White Supremacy, Theocracy and Fascism Are Never Legitimate.”
Shortly before 3 p.m., a caravan of dozens of cars was shown on a video the group posted on Twitter heading west on Sunset Boulevard toward Beverly Hills.
The group made clear its ground rules in a Facebook post: “We will NOT be countering the Fascists in Beverly Hills. No mixing households in cars & Mask up! In order to be safe, MUST HAVE CAR TO JOIN.” The group denounced Wednesday’s violence and called for the removal of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
“We’re aware of the protest, so we’ll have sufficient amount of officers (out there),” Officer Rosario Cervantes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section told City News Service Saturday morning. By 3 p.m., she said there was no indication of any disruption downtown or along Sunset Boulevard.
At 3 p.m., supporters of the president held a “freedom rally” at Beverly Gardens Park on Santa Monica Boulevard. The supporters started gathering at the park every weekend during the fall presidential campaign to express their support for the president.
They said they were meeting Saturday to “celebrate life, to unite our community in upholding American values and to encourage and empower citizens to participate in respectful discourse and effective social engagement.”
Beverly Hills police said they were prepared to keep the gathering peaceful.
“We do have officers planned for that,” Sgt. Jay Kim of the Beverly Hills Police Department told CNS. “We have a contingency of officers — just in case trouble erupts.”
On Friday, Twitter announced that Trump’s account was permanently suspended “due to the risk of further incitement for violence” after his tweets were blamed for inciting Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol.
The suspension came a day after Trump was barred from using Facebook for the remainder of his term.
Also Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that the House would move to impeach Trump next week over his role in inciting the violent mob attack if he did not resign “immediately.”
Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Equity Research Institute and a professor of sociology at the university, had long advocated Trump’s removal from social media.
“For the last four years it’s been a problem, especially since the election,” Pastor said. “The morning he was elected, I came to work and was asked by staff for some words of context and history, and I said, `Well, I think it’s going to get worse than you think.’ And I’ve been proved quite right. There is nothing about what took place Wednesday that was not predictable.”
Trump released a statement Friday that was quickly removed from his Twitter page but later disseminated to the White House press pool, in which he blasted the platform, saying it “is not about free speech. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely,” he said.
“As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” he said. “Twitter may be a private company, but without the government’s gift of Section 230 they would not exist for long.
“I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”