Instead, it became predominantly a Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally of some 500 people—according to a police estimate—which had been planned as a counter-protest.
Scuffles ensued and the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly, with 11 arrested.
Though there was no WLM signage or chants, a small number of extremists made an appearance, including two men shouting racial slurs at the BLM side and others with tattoos including swastikas. One of them slapped a counter-protester.
A separate handful of people lined the street with signs promoting “All Lives Matter” and expressing support for former President Donald Trump. They were accosted by counter-protesters.
The WLM rally was announced through social media, but the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) said it couldn’t identify any specific organizer.
“Our information came solely from social media,” officer Brian Smith told reporters. “We attempted to identify an organizer or a leader or even who did the initial post, but we were unable to establish that.”
Huntington Beach Councilman Tito Ortiz shared a post on Instagram the day before the event saying: “WARNING real patriots do not go to the HB Pier this Sunday, April 11. ‘White Lives Matter’ rally is a trap by the KKK or people pretending to be the KKK to discredit us & HB itself.”
Flyers had circulated in the city, as well as Newport Beach, in prior weeks that advertised the rally and also promoted a group called the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). In response, Huntington Beach City Council passed resolutions against racism.
The BLM counter-protest began at approximately 11 a.m. at Main St. and Pacific Coast Highway. “We’re gathered here today as one people … to create a better community,” BLM Huntington Beach chapter leader Tory Johnson, 35, said to protesters at around 11:15 a.m. through a megaphone.
Within the first hour, two counter-protesters were arrested. By the time HPBD announced an unlawful assembly at 2:36 p.m. due to an unruly crowd, 11 people total had been arrested, Smith told The Epoch Times via email.
The arrests were for (1) use of amplified device after warning; (2) resisting or delaying an officer, and unlawful possession of a billy club; (3) felony possession of tear gas and carrying a prohibited item during a public rally (pepper spray); (4) public intoxication; (5) petty theft and pedestrian in the roadway; (6) fighting in public; (7) use of amplified device after warning and outstanding warrants; (8) pedestrian in roadway and resisting or delaying an officer; (9) carrying a prohibited item during a public rally (pepper spray); (10) carrying a prohibited item during a public rally (prohibited pole); and (11) fighting in public.
“After the order was given, the crowd dispersed, effectively ending the event,” Smith said.
The crowds had chanted “Nazis go home,” “No KKK, No Fascist U.S.A,” “What Do We Want? … Unity,” as well as a chant directing profanities at police.
Dozens of HBPD officers were present, with some on horseback and others holding batons. A number of SWAT agents and Anaheim Police Department officers were also monitoring the streets.