A pro-Trump rally last month in southern California was attended by several individuals subsequently identified as apparent skinhead members of a new neo-Nazi skinhead “fight club.”
Violence broke out and four people were arrested at the “Make America Great Again” rally on March 25 at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach.
The brawl began when counter-protesters, including self-styled “anarchists,” attempted to block the parade route of sign- and flag-waving Trump supporters. Organizers said the “family-friendly” event was to show support for President Trump, the military, veterans, law enforcement and emergency responders.
The violence was triggered, the Los Angeles Times reported, when a counter demonstrator “doused” a female organizer with pepper spray.
But what wasn’t detailed in most media accounts was how—almost unnoticed—members of racist skinhead groups used the event as live theater to pair their agendas with those of the pro-Trump, MAGA factions.
A review of news photos and video taken during the event, along with social media postings, shows members of a white supremacist group identifying itself as “DIY Division” mingling with an estimated 2,000 Trump supporters.
At one point, some of the Trump supporters chased after counter-protesters, including the so-called “anarchists,” the alternative newspaper OCWeekly reported, “and that's when the neo-Nazis arrived to play.”
“They were proudly out during the rally, with no one telling them to go away,” the alternative weekly newspaper, based in Costa Mesa, reported.
One young man carried an Imperial War Ensign flag, the banner of the Second Reich, commonly used by neo-Nazis in Germany where the Nazi flag is banned, OCWeekly reported.
The Orange County Register, which also had journalists covering the rally, reported “some participants carried signs with Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim symbols.”
During the melee, event organizer Jennifer Sterling was hit with pepper spray as she attempted to break up a fight. She washed out her eyes and marched on, later describing the rally as a “beautiful event.”
Later, when asked during a radio interview about the presence of neo-Nazis at the pro-Trump gathering, Sterling said they were “plants.”
However, photographic evidence detailing clothing and tattoos worn by at least four members of the “DIY Division” shows the demonstrators’ affiliations with South Bay Skins and Hammerskin Nation, two notoriously violent, racist gangs.
In one photo, a young man holding an anti-Semitic signs joins others holding a large banner, “Defend America.”
The “DIY Division” bills itself as a “neo-Nazi fight club,” whose members apparently practice boxing in preparation for public brawls and violence which have become common at many pro-Trump rallies throughout the country.
In one social media post, the group says its goal is to promote “activism, athletics and Identity,” an apparent reference to Christian Identity, a racist-based religion promoting the ideology of white supremacy.
In another social media posting, 13 young, white male members of the “DIY Division” posed for a photo. In a repost of the picture, the faces of four members of the group are hidden by Pepe the Frog masks—a popular Alt-Right social media logo used to suggest racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted beliefs.
Among those assaulted at the Trump rally were two photographers and a young reporter working for OCWeekly, its editor, Gustavo Arellano, told Hatewatch. Some of the Trump supporters accused the journalists, who were “there merely doing their jobs,” of being responsible for “fake news,” the editor said
“My reporters saw protestors wearing Hammerskin Nation regalia and flashing tattoos of the South Bay Skins, yet no Trump supporter had a problem with them,” Arellano said. “If that's not an indication of the rise of fascism in Trump's America, I don't know what is."