Police are reporting five arrests and one minor injury during large protests outside a Burlingame hotel where presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed the California Republican Convention Friday.
Hundreds of protesters representing Bay Area groups began gathering in front of the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame Friday morning in anticipation of Trump’s speech at a lunch banquet. The crowd grew rapidly, blocking the road in both directions.
Trump’s appearances have drawn protests throughout the country due to his strongly stated anti-immigrant views and critical remarks about Muslims.
Protesters surged toward the entrance when they heard Trump had arrived, carrying off some police barricades. The real estate mogul arrived late and had to be brought in through a back door after traversing a ditch next to the freeway.
Trump remarked on the situation when he began his speech just before 1 p.m., nearly an hour late.
“That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” he said, describing having to make his way through a concrete barricade. “It felt like I was crossing the border.”
He then launched into a list of some of the accomplishments of his campaign, which he said included starting a national conversation about illegal immigration.
“People are talking about it,” he said. “They just don’t talk about it the way I do.”
As the controversial real estate mogul rapidly closes in on securing the party’s nomination for president, Trump said Friday his campaign was “making amazing progress” as the end of the Republican primaries draws near.
But his appearances have drawn protests nationwide, including at a rally in Costa Mesa Thursday night where multiple protesters were arrested.
“We’re here today because we feel like Donald Trump has misused his media and political platform to spread hate and violence and we won’t stand for that here in the Bay,” said Deidre Smith of the Blackout Collective. “Communities of color need our vote to be respected and we need our basic humanity to be honored.”
Cat Brooks with the Oakland-based Anti Police-Terror Project said that while she deplored Trump’s views, she appreciated that he had helped demonstrate that the United States is not, in fact, a post-racial society, as was sometimes claimed after President Barack Obama’s election.
“He has exposed what we have always known is alive and here in America, and that is a deeply anti-black sentiment,” Brooks said.
Before Trump arrived, some protesters managed to gain access to the hotel and briefly hang a large “Stop Hate” banner inside the hotel’s window.
Nancy Mancias, a member of CODEPINK, was also escorted from the hotel wearing a pink sign that read “Dump Trump.”
Mancias said a group supporter had paid for a hotel room for the group, and hinted there could be others inside.
“I’m here to say stop the hate,” she said.
As Trump spoke, protesters outside chanted, danced, burned Trump effigies and in some cases threw eggs at police guarding the hotel entrance.
One hotel window was broken and some people jumped on top of cars and had angry exchanges with Trump supporters coming and going from the building.
Other protesters chided them, however, and tried to protect Trump supporters and prevent any violence.
Earlier in the day, some had engaged in more civil conversations.
Tom Navarro, a San Mateo resident and veteran attending the convention, had a lengthy, friendly conversation with protesters about the treatment of veterans.
Navarro said he was attending the convention to get a sense of where the candidates stood, but favored Sen. Ted Cruz over Trump.
“I think it’s the more viable option for those who are not supporting Trump, to support Cruz,” he said, noting that he thought Trump’s policies primarily appealed to business and commercial interests.
Navarro said he had a positive experience talking to the protesters.
“I think that those who exercise their right to vote also should exercise their right to protest,” he said. “They were all very peaceful and they were all very congenial about what they represent and what they’re standing for and I respect that.”
Another man, who identified himself as Dominic, approached Rabia, a woman in hijab, to tell her, “Serving my country, what I did was go after terrorists.”
“We don’t go after Muslims, I don’t hate Muslims,” he said, but then added that he felt there was a “strong pull” within Islam toward terrorism and the country needed to be careful.
Rabia responded that all the men in her family had served in the military too. She said terrorists like the Islamic State group were criminals, like street gangs here, and should be dealt with accordingly, but that Muslims were being attacked because they looked like them.
“I’m asking Donald Trump, who are you kicking out?” she said. “I’m an American citizen. Who are you kicking out?”
She noted that many Trump supporters do not seem to take the candidate at his word when he expresses anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiments.
“Somehow Trump has managed to distance himself from his words, and the people who follow him are like puppets, and they’re like, yes, he said it, but he didn’t really mean that,” she said.
All three remaining Republican presidential candidates will speak this weekend as the convention continues with a dinner banquet Friday evening featuring Ohio Gov. John Kasich and a lunch banquet on Saturday with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, recently announced as Cruz’s running mate, will host a dinner banquet on Saturday night.
Burlingame Police Lt. Jay Kiely said the department had brought in officers from throughout San Mateo County to assist with today’s event. He said the department had spoken to groups planning the protest and asked them to keep things peaceful.
Kiely said Friday afternoon that five arrests and one minor injury had been reported, but did not have further details. He said officers had eggs thrown at them and were pushed by protesters but had been able to “take the situation for what it was.”
“I commend our officers for tremendous restraint,” he said.