After two straight weeks of protests at Rancho California and Ynez roads against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, dozens of supporters of President Trump rallied across town Friday at another heavily-traveled Temecula intersection.
A crowd that grew to as large as 100 people — some of them local residents, and some of them from other parts of Southern California — displayed Blue Lives Matter and Trump signs, American flags and even a life-size cutout of the president at the intersection of Winchester and Ynez roads near the Promenade Temecula mall. The event was advertised as running between 4 and 6 p.m., though many people were still present into the early evening.
“I want my country safe,” one woman, Alfiya Eastin of Temecula, said of her reason for being here. “No riots. No people murdered. All lives matter. It’s not just Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. White lives matter. Everybody’s lives matter.”
While protests in the Temecula area have been peaceful, Eastin said rioting and violence are concerns for her.
“I’m afraid they will come to my house,” she said. “I’m not safe. I don’t feel safe.”
Judy Crowley, who said she lives in Banning but has children who live in Temecula, said she wanted to show her support for President Trump because she believes “this is our last chance to keep capitalism.”
“If he doesn’t win,” Crowley said, “we will all look like Seattle. I don’t want to live in Seattle. I don’t want to live in anarchy.”
Asked about her reaction to the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Crowley said this: “All lives matter. Black babies’ lives matter. They should be standing in front if abortion clinics, because those abortion clinics kill more Black babies than anyone else.”
There were some contentious interactions with occupants of passing cars — at several points, people driving by could be heard shouting “f*** Trump,” both one of the attendees, John Guzman Jr., said he thought his fellow rally-goers were trying to keep those interactions to a minimum.
“Usually, the people here will say, like ‘God bless you,’” Guzman said. “Most of them will try not to get physical because that doesn’t help, throwing mud. To me, everyone’s American. I mean, I am mostly conservative, but I have some liberal friends, I have friends that don’t follow politics, and I try to take it as, people are people. And you know, just respect, respect a Democrat, respect a Republican.”
Bob Kowell of Murrieta, the organizer of the rally, said he thought the event was drawing more support than it was anger — and indeed, there were plenty of passing drivers honking their horns, though the opposition was a little more pronounced than that seen directed at local Black Lives Matter rallies.
“Sometimes we get a whole bunch of horn honking, sometimes we don’t get any, sometimes we get a whole lot of people with their fingers, sometimes we don’t get any,” Kowell said.
Kowell said he began planning it on Monday and circulated a flyer both on Facebook and via email to get people to show up.
“I was so depressed about everything,” Kowell said. “I woke up on Monday and said, ‘let’s do a rally — I called up a friend and said, ‘let’s do a rally.
“I made up a flyer, blasted it around and this is what we got.”
Anti-police brutality protests have been taking place almost daily at the Temecula Duck Pond since May 30, and one was even ongoing at the exact same time as Kowell’s rally. He said he was aware of that, which is why he organized his rally at the location he did.
“Why it happened here instead of the Duck Pond is because they run the Duck Pond right now,” Kowell said. They’re there all day and I don’t want to have a confrontation
Kowell’s rally is the first sizeable pro-Trump demonstration in Temecula since the beginning of the last two weeks’ Black Lives Matter protests.
“We haven’t been out because of COVID, and we haven’t been out because — actually, a lot of people are afraid to come out,” Kowell said, “because they see people beaten up and killed and murdered and buildings burned, so they go, ‘wow, these people are really bad, so I’m afraid to come out,’ so I’m actually surprised we have this many.”