Trump rally sparks violent protest in Southern California

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LOS ANGELES In what may unfortunately provide a sign of what to expect in Cleveland when it hosts the Republican National Convention in July, protesters opposed to Donald Trump showed up en-masse at a events in southern California, clashing with police, bloodying Trump supporters and pelting passing motorists with rocks.

Video of melees in Costa Mesa Thursday night and Burlingame Friday, much of the footage captured and spread by social media as well as traditional news outlets, shows scenes of anger and chaos, with some waving Mexican flags. The first outbreak of chaos occurred in Costa Mesa as Trump backers tried to leave a rally where the New York billionaire and GOP frontrunner spoke.

The rally itself appeared peaceful, held inside the 8,000-seat Pacific Amphitheater in the Orange County city roughly 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles:

The mood changed significantly after sunset, as the crowd left the rally. According to KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, the number of anti-Trump protesters swelled to about 3,000.

That’s when things soured:

The ensuing mayhem resulted in 17 arrests, as violence broke out and the protest devolved into a riot, according to the Los Angeles Times:

Trump kicked off his campaign last year with comments disparaging illegal immigrants from Mexico, calling them rapists and killers. He has said that as president, he would deport all 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. many from Mexico and Central America build a wall along the nation’s southern border and demand that the Mexican government pay for it.

The New York billionaire, who needs 1,237 delegates to clinch the GOP nomination, currently has 994 locked down. Trailing him with 566 delegates is Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 153.

With California’s haul of Republican 172 delegates, it’s plausible that the Golden State will determine whether Trump will capture the nomination on the first convention ballot or face a contested floor fight for the nod. There are 572 GOP delegates still up for grabs.

California will hold its Republican primary on June 7.

The day after Thursday night’s rally, Trump headed to Burlingame, which is hosting this weekend’s California Republican Convention, a two-day gathering featuring Trump, Cruz and Kasich.

A massive swell of protesters assembled outside the Hyatt Regency hotel where Golden State Republicans convened just as Trump was preparing to speak:

During his remarks, Trump didn’t mention the protesters, who had surrounded the hotel.

Outside, police worked to keep order:

Protesters, however, appeared to be organized and aimed at creating havoc for Republicans trying to enter the building and get to the convention:

Trump, who entered the hotel through a side door and evaded the protesters, compared his entrance to “crossing the border” in his speech to the convention.

Trump managed to leave the building the same way he entered through a side entrance.