Cheers and jeers for pro-Trump caravan in the Valley
A caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump rolled through the San Fernando Valley on Sunday, snarling traffic and garnering both cheers and jeers.
Los Angeles police did not have a count of how many people showed up. But images of the caravan posted to social media showed hundreds of vehicles, many adorned with huge pro-Trump flags.
About a half-hour after the event was scheduled to start, police received a call about “shots fired” near where the caravan’s long train passed by apartment complexes in the 20500 block of Ventura Boulevard. But as of 5:30 p.m., police had not confirmed a shooting took place.
Neighbors said residents of an apartment building threw beer bottles from their balcony at Trump supporters in the caravan and argued with them. One of the bottles shattered a vehicle window, the neighbors said, and a tire popped, making a loud noise. A resident and his girlfriend also said they heard a car backfiring.
Despite the police response, the caravan cruised mostly undisturbed Sunday, traveling east on Ventura Boulevard from Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills toward Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City.
Some of the drivers in the caravan, however, got into shouting matches with other motorists. When they got out on foot, some quarreled with anti-Trump and Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the Galleria mall in Sherman Oaks and later the deli.
Adee Drory said she was one of the organizers of the caravan. The event planner said she coordinated with some members of the Israeli-American community in the Valley and the Los Angeles GOP to put on the parade.
“We organized together to let people know they do not have to be afraid to support Trump,” Drory said. “There’s a lot of fear right now to say you support the president.”
She estimated 500 to 700 vehicles drove in the caravan Sunday, though counter protesters along the route counted far fewer. Protesters outside the Galleria said they witnessed 100 vehicles drive past them.
Other pro-Trump rallies across the country, as well as in Los Angeles, have been marred by fistfights, pepper spray battles and shouting matches with counter-protesters.
For several weekends in a row in mid-August, Trump supporters and demonstrators for Black Lives Matter squared off in Tujunga, with LAPD riot officers separating them. Some in the group later came to blows.
BLM supporters have accused the president and his followers of fanning the flames of racial conflict in the U.S., and said some Trump supporters have shown up at protests armed.
Late Saturday night in Portland, a caravan of militia members and Trump supporters drove into the city, then battled with anti-law enforcement protesters there. A man with a hat displaying a militia insignia was later shot to death. The Portland shooting followed the deadly encounter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in which a 17-year-old armed with a rifle allegedly shot two protesters to death.
On Sunday, despite the call to police, several neighbors of the apartment unit in the 20500 block of Ventura Boulevard said they did not hear any shots fired that morning.
Drory, the event organizer, said she reviewed video of the incident taken by a team member. She said she handed that video over to LAPD, which was still investigating.
“You can clearly see the bottles being thrown at the vehicles,” she said. “But you can hear in the video that there was no gunshot.”
Drory said she wasn’t sure if anyone in the video was actually armed with a weapon. Neighbors of the unit where the men throwing beer bottles were located said they also saw video of the incident — they described a man holding a hunting rifle or possibly a BB gun.
Officer William Cooper, an LAPD spokesman, said no one was injured during a confrontation between the men on the balcony in Woodland Hills and the Trump supporters in the caravan.
Cooper said police believe three men from the apartment balcony were involved in the incident. It wasn’t clear Sunday whether police had spoken to any of those men.
Neighbors said police officers at the apartment building told them a search of the apartment found no one inside. By around 4:30 p.m., LAPD allowed evacuated residents back into the apartment building.