Police Prepare Again for a Political Demonstration

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Mounted police proved an invaluable resource for crowd control during a largely peaceful political demonstration that at its peak drew 2,500 people to Main Beach on Sunday, Aug. 20. Photo by Mitch Ridder
Mounted police proved an invaluable resource for crowd control during a largely peaceful political demonstration that at its peak drew 2,500 people to Main Beach on Sunday, Aug. 20. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Laguna Beach police plan to deploy its entire staff to Main Beach this Sunday, Sept. 24, in anticipation of a follow-up demonstration to one that drew 2,500 people to Laguna Beach in August.

The organizer behind last month’s rally, Johnny Benitez of Lake Forest, told police this week he would not attend, but others could, Sgt. James Cota said.

“So long story short, we are preparing and executing like a rally is taking place,” Cota said Friday, Sept. 22.

Like last month’s rally, the beachfront sidewalk is now lined with traffic barricades, an obstacle to inhibit vehicles from reaching demonstrators. Hundreds of counterdemonstrators flocked to the America First rally Benitez led on Aug. 20, days after a demonstrator died when hit by a car in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists protested the removal of a Confederate monument.

Local police tapped additional resources, drawing on nearly 300 sworn personnel from 17 agencies to keep antagonists from direct clashes in the previous rally. There is little double Police Chief Laura Farinella would do the same again.

Benitez told police he canceled the planned rally for September because of death threats from those who conflated his positions with white supremacists. He removed his America First Facebook page promoting the rally, but police remain concerned demonstrators and counterdemonstrators will arrive anyway. “We are not going to take any chances,” Cota said. “We will stick to our priority of protecting all individuals from violence, maintaining peace for all, and protecting property from damage. As already demonstrated, there will be a no-tolerance policy for violators breaking the law,” he said.

If the Facebook page of the Democratic Socialists of America is any guide, the organization that was very visible in last month’s rally show no signs of planning to participate this Sunday.

Even before Benitez cancelled the rally, the Laguna Beach City Council enacted an emergency ordinance prohibiting demonstrators from carrying anything that could be construed as a weapon, such as poles for flags or stakes for signs and containers such as balloons, which could contain bio-hazards such as urine and feces.

Police made four arrests during last month’s rally.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If all these cowards at the same as the murdering coward who shot the homeless man yesterday, then you better watch out Laguna, because these clowns are really Nazi’s reincarnated! The picture above pretty much says it all, don’t you think? America is dead and gone unless you all wake up within the next 2 months. Slipping away…………….

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