San Diegans, both for and against Trump, rally during presidential visit


Vladimir Salazar

Two protesters argue during President Donald Trump's visit to Otay Mesa on Tuesday.

by Vladimir Salazar, Staff Writer

Throngs of protesters took to the streets of San Diego on Tuesday as President Donald Trump arrived in California to view prototypes of the border wall his administration plans to build.

It’s Trump’s first visit to the state since he took office last year.

One of the protests took place on the east side of the neighborhood of Otay Mesa, near the wall prototypes and not far from the border.

Demonstrators — both for and against the president — lined opposite sides of a street, while a line of police in the middle of the street divided the two groups.

We’re here to welcome Trump and demonstrate the California is not against him,” said Sherry Stone, a resident of Ventura County who traveled to watch the president head to the wall prototypes.

The prototypes are about four miles from the area where protesters and supporters gathered to see Trump. People were not able to see them up close, as access to the prototypes is restricted.

Trump was not scheduled to arrive in Otay Mesa until around noon, but people were gathered in the area hours before.

Gary Jones, 62, was in the area before 7 a.m., accompanied by his daughter, Jacqueline Jones, 16.

“We were hoping to be able to see the president up close and greet him, but we weren’t able to because of the security,” he said.

Jacqueline Jones said she  didn’t understand why people wouldn’t agree with the border wall proposal.

“Mexico has a wall,” she said. “So does China. I don’t understand why it’s a big problem.”

Before about 9 a.m., the majority of the demonstrators were supporters of Trump. Many streets around Otay Mesa were closed.

William Stanhope, of Chula Vista, was one of the first protesters against Trump to arrive in the area, and was on the same side of the street as sympathizers of the president.

“I think that Trump is the worst thing to happen to our world since Adolf Hitler,” he said.

Around 11 a.m., many more protesters from both sides began to arrive. San Diego County sheriff’s deputies also arrived to assist the San Diego police.

Laura Molina, who was there to protest Trump’s visit, said she was scared because there were about 50 sheriff’s deputies in the area.

“It’s a little intimidating,” Molina said. “I sent my mother a message to let her know her daughter was surrounded by armed police.”

Trump passed through the area around the protests, escorted by various law enforcement officers.

The demonstrators against Trump showed him their contempt with screams and insults, while his supporters applauded and shouted their support.

The president spent almost an hour viewing the prototypes, and during this time, the demonstrators shouted one another.

Although the police monitored the situation, some supporters of the president managed to get into the counter-protesters’ area begin an argument.

Manny Aguilar, a U.S. military veteran and an immigrant from Mexico, said he traveled from Los Angeles to support the Mexican-American community.

“I want Trump to see that he can’t categorize all Mexicans,” he said. “I have been a good representative of my country of Mexico.”

After about an hour, the president left the area, and the protests subsided.

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