COSTA MESA (CBSLA.com) — Costa Mesa’s mayor praised police Friday for the way they handled Thursday night’s violent demonstrations that led to the arrests of at least 17 people outside the Orange County fairgrounds, where Donald Trump held a rally.
On Tuesday, five people, including two children, were pepper sprayed when Trump supporters and opponents clashed in Anaheim. The fracas happened before the city council was to vote on a resolution to denounce Trump for what his critics call “divisive rhetoric.”
USC student Kathleen Tsung said she refuses to go to political rallies because she thinks they are dangerous. “I don’t want to put myself in that situation where I could possibly in the middle of that because some of those get really bad and get really scary,” she added.
So why do political parties tend to draw violence or tend to get out of control?
Jody Armour is a law professor at USC. “A lot of the violence is self-destructive for sure and self-defeating. The question is: ‘Is it a response to bad conditions that’s in any way understandable? Is it in any way justified? And it really hurts the cause of lot of times.”
“We in California have a long history of riots, both in the Watts riots, the ’92 riots protesting social conditions where people were oppressive. But the riots didn’t make things better.” he recalled.
The professor said history is repeating itself. “We’re at a historical inflection point. I think, again like the late 60’s, you have a lot of social activism, a lot of concern about social and racial justice and people wanting to deal with problems that we haven’t adequately addressed for many years.”
Armor said a mob mentality can take over at political rallies where one can also find what he calls “rebels without a cause” – those who show up simply because they are anti-establishment.
He also pointed out that social media can also to the problem. “There’s no question that social media is a vital force in all kinds of social movements. And it fuels a lot of the energy that makes social movements so vital today. They’re a blessing to be sure, but also a curse.
Armor said political rallies can be peaceful, but organizers and leaders need to set the tone.