I am a resident of Laguna Beach who attended the counter protest to America First at Main Beach. I’m writing because I couldn’t recognize the event the article “Organizer Cancels America First Rally” described and I attended.
I attended because I had watched the YouTube video America First had filmed, trying to enlist protestors. I found it to be violent in nature and targeted against Laguna Beach residents, who were stereotyped as rich, liberal and evil. This was not a rally for victims of illegal immigrant crime; American First was inviting people to teach Laguna Beach residents a lesson, to show us our evil liberal ways.
I was there for a few hours and was very inspired by the people who had come to stand up for Laguna Beach and our values. Thousands of us peacefully came together to say hate wasn’t allowed here, played music and chatted with friends. The police from Laguna and the rest of Orange County did a beautiful and respectful job of keeping the two groups separated
Violence happened after a small a group of America First people, five to 10, decided to leave the area the police had reserved for them and circulated through the larger crowd. This group had some people dressed militarily and some were carrying upside down black and white American flags. I believe that this group did this to incite the peaceful protest and they were successful at it.
I think your article painted a false equivalent between a group that came to town to teach “liberal” Laguna a lesson and those who came to say that hate doesn’t fly here.
Michael Waldman, Laguna Beach