It’s unclear whether another “America First” rally with emotional Trump supporters and opponents will be held in Laguna Beach this weekend, but police are planning to beef up staffing just in case, a sergeant said Monday.
The last rally at main beach on Aug. 20 drew thousands, and one counter protester was arrested and later pleaded guilty to sucker punching a speaker at the gathering. Richard Daniel Losey, 20, of Lancaster, Ohio, was sentenced to a month in county jail for the attack.
The organizer, Johnny Benitez, earlier indicated to police he canceled a Sept. 24 rally, but apparently has changed his mind, according to his most recent Facebook posts inviting his supporters to another gathering on that date at main beach.
Another rally was also scheduled for Oct. 22, according to Benitez’s Facebook page.
The Sept. 24 rally “will focus on brining awareness to Extortion 17 and Benghazi,” according to Benitez’s Facebook page. “These events are demonstrative of a deep state operation behind the shadows at the expense of our servicemen.”
Benitez could not be immediately reached for comment.
Benitez, who lives in South Orange County, previously told City News Service that his past gatherings went off without incident. But the one in August came on the heels of turbulent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, that drew national attention.
“We’re trying to figure out if he’s going to do it or not,” said Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota. “We’re trying to reach out to him, but the phone numbers he used in the past are no longer functional.”
Police planned to try to pay him a personal visit to see if the rallies are still on so they can plan ahead for security, Cota said.
“We’re still going to heavily staff just in case,” Cota said.
A month ago, Benitez said he had received threats to his family so he canceled the Sept. 24 rally, but police noticed that his Facebook page indicates he has changed his mind.
—City News Service
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