Huntington Police deem ‘White Lives Matter’ protest unlawful

Pre-nursing major recalls the dueling protests at Huntington Beach.

Natalie Willis, News Editor

On Sunday, April 11, Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism groups gathered in Huntington Beach to peacefully protest against a White Lives Matter protest scheduled for 1 p.m. at the same location. Sophomore pre-nursing major Independence Whitnak, who attended the protest, explained that the presence of Ku Klux Klan members offset tensions between the opposing groups. 

According to CBS News, the Huntington Beach Police Department declared the assembly of the White Lives Matter protests as unlawful in order to disperse the crowds. Police arrested 12 protesters during the rally.   

PEACEFUL TURNED VIOLENT 

The Black Lives Matter protesters occupied Pier Plaza to prevent any demonstrations by the WLM group, CBS News reported. According to Whitnak, counter-protesters began arriving around 9 a.m. as she watched from her job at Huntington Surf and Sport. Police were deployed to the location in the morning and some stood guard outside of the shop where Whitnak works.

Around 12 p.m., Whitnak went on her lunch break to join the protesters and explained that at that point, it was peaceful. Roughly 500 people gathered on both sides of the Pacific Coast Highway, the Orange County Register reported.

According to The L.A. Times, tensions began soaring shortly after 12 p.m. when a man chanted “White Lives Matter” repeatedly before yelling at an anti-racism protester sporting a poster that read “Death to the Klan.” 

Whitnak explained that at first, Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism protesters were gathered peacefully until around 12:30 p.m. when the police tried to move the protests off of the road causing both demonstrations to congregate. Soon, a series of skirmishes broke out.

“They were trying to move it so someone [did not] hit by a car basically because it was getting really heated or at least getting enough to where people could get hit, but unfortunately that pushed the two sides together,”  Whitnak said.

Whitnak and her coworkers began moving their items inside the shop as they watched the protests turn violent and cited multiple fistfights. According to an ABC News report, at 2:36 p.m., the Huntington Beach Police Department declared an unlawful assembly “in order to disperse an unruly crowd.” 

HISTORY OF HATE 

The Los Angeles Times reported the attendance of William Quigg at the protest, the state leader of the Loyal White Knights faction of the Ku Klux Klan in California. The White Lives Matter rally at Huntington was part of a group of protests scheduled across the country on Sunday. 

Whitnak explained that hundreds of people arrived at the rally to stand in solidarity with the Black community. Natives to Huntington Beach have been disappointed in the hate taking place in their community according to Whitnak. 

“It wasn’t just hate, it was hate that was historically backed up by action,” Whitnak said. “I think that’s why it makes it even more severe that it’s the literal KKK, so it’s not just ‘I hate you’ that’s the end of it. It’s ‘I hate you and we have a history of murdering you.’ ”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the rallies were organized through the messaging app Telegram and attendees were encouraged to wear masks to remain anonymous. 

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