Observations On The San Jose Rally
As a father, my primary concern has been, and always will be, for the security and safety of my family. As a Veteran, and now an Oath Keeper, my primary concern is for the security and safety of my community. As such, when Donald Trump came to Burlingame, Ca in late April to address the California GOP Convention I had some concerns about the potential disruptions to that community that could arise from the protests that Mr. Trumps presence was certain to attract.
I was mostly worried about the potential impact to vehicle traffic on US Highway 101 which is the main artery of travel from San Francisco to San Jose. I was only worried because I have a disabled adult son who attends a day program at a facility just minutes away from the hotel where the California GOP convention was being held and he was scheduled to be on the bus traveling home at the time the convention would be letting out.
I don’t live in or near the greater San Francisco Bay area with my son, so on that particular day I was relegated to watching the day’s events, including the large protests, via the internet and maintaining phone communication with my son’s mother to make sure that our son was clear of any of the disruptions. Fortunately, there were no major disruptions that day other than to Mr. Trump’s planned entry and exit route to the convention center. Still, the situation came close enough to my personal little part of the world that it made me look long and hard at the brewing cauldron of discontent that is, by some, being projected upon Mr. Trump.
When I learned that Mr. Trump would be holding a major campaign rally in San Jose in June on a day when I would be visiting my son in a nearby city, I decided that I would drive to the rally location and observe the area surrounding the convention center. I was shocked by what I witnessed.
I didn’t have a ticket to the event, so I decided to find parking as close to the event as I could and just walk around and mingle with the crowds. I arrived after the rally had started, so all I saw at first were several large groups of people milling around outside the convention center. It was clear that the majority of the people in these groups were anti-Trump protesters as there were dozens of signs and banners being waved that clearly indicated such. Some folks were chanting various slogans; both in English and Spanish. Many Mexican flags could be seen waving in the air, but not a single American flag; except for the two I saw being burnt on a small side street a few blocks from the rally.
What really stood out to me while I was waiting for the rally to end and rally goers to start flooding the streets was the amount of distance that law enforcement officers placed between themselves and the protesters. There were very few barriers set up in an effort to keep protesters separate from rally goers and it didn’t seem to me that the Police had done much in the way of preparations for crowd control. I didn’t worry too much about it as I took account of the force size that San Jose Police had assembled for the event, but they were intentionally taking up positions that, in my opinion, made absolutely no sense given my personal assessment of the tactical situation.
Also notable was the amount of Press on hand. The atmosphere within the Press circles was one of high anticipation. It was like a pack of ravenous wolves milling around waiting for an unsuspecting beef calf to get separated from the herd. I hate to use such a metaphor, but there was no doubt in my mind that the Press knew there would be some sensational coverage to get that day.
As the end of the rally drew near the energy of the protesters began to ramp up and I started to feel seriously uneasy. As I was there alone, I decided to fall back from the main body of protesters that had now formed up from several smaller groups. It was evident that many of the protesters were going to mass around the exits of the convention center and I didn’t want to get caught between them and the exits. What was bizarre was that the Police also began to pull back with only a few remaining at the exits. This set up a dangerous gauntlet that rally goers would have to navigate in order to vacate the area immediately surrounding the convention center. When I realized this my heart sank.
I took up position back at my truck two blocks from the rally and just as I was digging my field glasses out of one my gear bags I heard a loud roar come from the main body of protesters. I interpreted this as the signal that the rally was letting out. What I witnessed next was horrifying, but it was hearing the screams of a woman in distress that chilled my blood. I tried to identify where the screams were coming from, but was unable to as they soon diminished and then subsided. Shortly thereafter, people began franticly running passed my location, most of them seemed confused and scared. I scanned the area with my field glasses and within seconds I observed two individuals being harassed by a much larger group of protesters; approximately 25 individuals. Suddenly, one of the protesters moved in close to one of the individuals being harassed, knocked something out his hand—a phone, I think—then suckered punched the guy hard to the right side of his head. The man immediately fell to the ground and the assailant moved nonchalantly back into the crowd. What was so shocking was that there were two police officers on enduro motorcycles about fifty feet away who, seen from my vantage point, had to have had a clear site line on the assault. I’m confident of this because no sooner had the man who was punched hit the ground, the motorcycle officers rode over to him. In doing so they rode right passed the assailant who was making no effort to flee the area or evade capture by the officers on the motorcycles; the officers seemed completely disinterested in the assailant. As far as I know that individual was never arrested.
Since that day we’ve heard from San Jose’s mayor and police chief, and have seen hundreds of video’s online, including one that captured the assault I personally witnessed. Much has been said about the events of that day, but I’m more concerned about the events of the future.
Mr. Trump has made it clear that he intends to campaign hard in California. As a lifetime resident of California I know just how “liberal” the state is; especially the San Francisco Bay Area. The statements and behavior of San Jose’s mayor and law enforcement with respect to the protesters’ violent acts following the Trump campaign rally send an extremely dangerous message; “Violence is Acceptable.” This does not bode well going forward for the Trump campaign, or any citizen who wishes to publically exercise their first amendment right to free speech in support of Mr. Trump; especially in a liberal state like California.
As an Oath Keeper Chapter Coordinator I support our founder’s recent statements concerning the events and aftermath in San Jose, Ca. and I intend to do all I can to continue protecting and preserving the constitutional rights of decent and law abiding citizens within my local community, as well as throughout the state of California. As part of that effort, I am calling on all Oath Keepers in California, as well as across the nation, to act immediately in concert with your local chapter to begin developing active defense plans with strategies and tactics geared to lawfully protecting citizens who wish to organize and meet publically for the purpose of exercising their first amendment rights, and to hold local law enforcement officers and agencies accountable to their oath to the constitution and to their constituencies. We cannot, and must not allow riotous violence to become an acceptable form of political protest in this country.
Dale W,—Amador County, Ca. Chapter Coordinator.