Overall, there was no repeat of the violence and vandalism that accompanied clashes at a Trump rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Calif., Thursday where 17 were arrested and a police car was smashed.
In Burlingame, some 20 miles south of San Francisco and a short ride from the headquarters of Facebook and Google, local police had braced for what they worried could have been thousands in support and protest of the Republican presidential front-runner outside the Hyatt Regency hotel, where Trump spoke.
Instead, several hundred showed up.
As crowds gathered before Trump’s arrival, one young demonstrator jumped out of her car, yelling, “F— Donald Trump.” A man parking nearby leaned on his horn, jumped out of his car, and screamed at her, “That’s why I joined the Marines to protect stupid b—- like you.”
Several helicopters hovered over the site, where police set up barricades to handle the crowd. People were streaming toward the hotel, carrying signs and waving flags of several nations
“We came here because we want to use our American right of free speech to say Donald Trump’s hate is not going to make America great,” said Jann Kadahi, 19, a political science student at San Jose State University, who is Muslim and Syrian-American.
“It’s really offensive to have him play on people’s fears. We’re not going to allow him to spread his lies here,” added Noor Hussein, 22, another San Jose State student who is also Muslim and Syrian-American
Protesters arrayed themselves around the hotel, attempting to block entrances and keep Trump out. Several groups sat down cross-legged, arms locked together to bar the roadways into the hotel.
The majority of protesters seemed not angry at the Republican Party but rather at Trump’s previous statements. Their signs read “Stop Hate” and “No Hate in Our State.”
Some waved Mexican flags, a comment on Trump’s promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. At one point a group tried to rush the hotel to get into the convention but were pushed back by police. Others tossed eggs.
Small groups of young men with bandannas covering their faces, who appeared to be looking for fights, roamed the chaotic scene. One picked up a heavy planter and unsuccessfully attempted to break a large plate glass window.
However in general, the crowd was peaceful. At one point when a possibly pro-Trump supporter attempted to grab an American flag, a scuffle broke out. Others in the crowd quickly began shouting “chill out,” “be cool” and “remember, we’re the non-violent ones.”
To add to the circus-like atmosphere, a group of Bernie Sanders supporters were also on the scene. The Vermont Senator has strong support in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One group of topless young men and women carried signs saying “Make Love, not a Wall.”
Kimberley Rodler, 51, of San Rafael, Calif., held a swirling sign in red, white and blue for “Ladies who love democracy against Trump.”
A sign from Samara Halperin merely said, “Ewww. Trump.”
The protest was organized by many San Francisco Bay area activist groups, concerned over Trump’s anti-immigrant stance and rhetoric they deemed racist. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 almost 13% of Californians were foreign born and in the state whites are no longer the largest racial or ethnic group.
“Some of the things he’s been saying, they’re horrible,” said Hamirani, a 34-year-old Oakland, Calif., resident who is a member of Asians for Black Lives, a group that helped organize the protest. “It makes me afraid for the future of this country.”
There were few self-identified Trump supporters in the crowd. A few from the convention occasionally came out to the police barricades to take photos of the crowd and give interviews to the media but did not engage with the protesters.
Tim Donnelly, who is running for California’s 8th Congressional District, said that he was there to fight to take back the Republican party from those who have betrayed it with what he called bloated budgets and offers to take in dangerous refugees.
“I’m supporting the insurgency against the Republican establishment. Trump in at the lead of that,” he said.
TRUMP SKIRTS PROTESTERS
Shortly after noon, because of the growing crowd the Secret Service took the Trump motorcade on an unconventional path directly off Highway 101, where no exit exists, so they could enter the back of the hotel.
“That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” Trump told the convention, to laughter. “It felt like I was crossing the border.”
Demonstrators proceeded to rush to the back of the hotel to block his departure following the speech. However Trump’s entourage left without incident after his speech.
Tom Navarro, 52, of San Mateo, Calif., a veteran and Republican attending the meeting, said he supported the protesters’ right to free speech. He is a supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he considers more electable than Trump.
Much is at stake in California, the richest delegate prize for the Republican presidential nomination: 172 are up for grabs during the June 7 primary. The state is also a treasure trove of fundraising, where Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has proven to be a formidable force among Silicon Valley donors.
Trump is closing in on the 1,237 delegates to cinch the nomination after a string of dominant victories in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are making last stands in several states, and expected to spend considerable time in the Golden State.
By 2 p.m., Trump had slipped out of the building and the protesters began to stream back to their cars, leaving signs, trampled shrubs and one slightly burned Trumppinata behind on the ground.