Donald Trump Supporters File Lawsuit against City of San Jose

Fourteen Donald Trump supporters filed a federal lawsuit accusing San Jose police of failing to protect them from violent protesters after a campaign event last month.

The civil rights case seeks unspecified damages and class-action status for all Trump backers attacked after the June 2 rally for the Republican presidential candidate in downtown San Jose.

Plaintiffs claim the city’s response was weak and politicized, and that police complacency undermined their constitutional rights to free speech, peaceful assembly and due process. Police arrested 20 people after the protest and fielded two-dozen reports of assault.

City spokesman Dave Vossbrink said the city has yet to see the lawsuit filed by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, the vice chair of the California Republican Party.

One of the plaintiffs, 38-year-old Log Cabin Republican Juan Hernandez, says he emerged from the chaos with a broken nose and blood-spattered shirt.

“Walking out of the rally, you could see that it was like Armageddon,” the Santa Clara resident told San Jose Inside days after the event. “There were no boundaries, no rules, no officers enforcing public safety.”

On his way from the San Jose Convention Center to a nearby parking garage, Hernandez says, he watched other Trump supporters get physically attacked. Hernandez wore a blue “Make America Great Again” Trump hat and his friend—Dustin Haines-Scrodin, another plaintiff—wore a red one.

“We didn’t have time to take it off,” he said. “And as soon as we made eye contact with them, I was like, ‘Oh shit. This is it.’”

People began hitting him and his friend, he says—about five assailants wailed on him until his adrenaline kicked in and numbed him from the blows. When his nose cracked on someone’s fist, blood began spurting onto his clothes.

“Everyone kind of just froze,” he said. “So I grabbed my friend and we took off running.”

For an hour after the rally let out, the lawsuit claims, police did little to quell the violence and continued to direct Trump supporters toward the protesters. Frank Velasquez claims in the lawsuit that an anti-Trump demonstrator snatched the hat off of his son’s head. The protester, Anthony Yi, tried running away but fell at the San Carlos Street-Almaden Boulevard intersection. Velasquez’s son, Nathan, tried giving Yi a hand up.

“As Yi stood up, [he] struck Nathan in the head with his fist, causing … severe bodily harm, including a concussion and severe emotional distress,” the lawsuit states. “Yi also possessed a knife at this time.”

The notorious “egg lady”—a Florida bodybuilder and physical therapist named Rachel Casey—also figures into the case. After leaving the rally, she said, police directed her into a mob of protesters. After admittedly taunting them, she says she tried to get into a nearby hotel, but the security guards blocked the door. It wasn’t until people had thrown eggs, a tomato and a bottle of water at her that they let her inside.

The lawsuit says a 14-year-old boy and a 71-year-old woman were also attacked in full view of the police, who reportedly apologized for being unable to help them.

“The San Jose Police Department failed to declare the demonstration an unlawful assembly until a full 30 minutes or more of violent altercations had ensued,” the lawsuit claims. “It was not until approximately one hour after the Trump rally’s conclusion that police brought out megaphones and told demonstrators to leave or face arrest.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Democrat, blasted Trump for stirring up unrest and outright violence that local law enforcement has to break up.

“At some point, Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign,” the mayor told the Associated Press the night of the campaign rally.

Dhillon says in the lawsuit that Liccardo’s remarks indicate that the city’s reaction to the violence was influenced by the political viewpoints of San Jose’s policymakers.

In an interview with the Mercury News after the rally, San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia called allegations that he told his officers to “stand down” absurd.

“I have a lot of control over my officers, but my officers do now know the meaning of the term stand down,” he told the newspaper last month. “They would not follow that order nor would I even expect them to.”

In a public statement before the rally, Garcia said he would “do everything possible to protect the First Amendment, those attending our community, and our officers.”

Many activists who staged peaceful demonstrations outside the event expressed dismay that the violence distracted from their goal, which was to denounce Trump’s exclusionary immigration stance, outspoken bigotry and other inflammatory rhetoric.

Click here to read a copy of the complaint.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

26 Comments

  1. This shouldn’t be about Donald Trump. People who are exercising their 1st Amendment rights should not have to worry about having the crap beaten out of them while the police look the other way. Today it’s Trump supporters, tomorrow, it could be Bernie supporters. I hope SJ gets the message that this was unacceptable.

  2. The class clown ( ex SJPD) comes out from under his rock again to make another dumb post. Go back to your cave. Boy you sure hate SJPD ever since you got the boot. How many years ago and you still hold this grudge, time to move on.

  3. Imagine if, instead of Trump rally attendees, the group had been from the LGBT community, and the assembled crowd was made up of “God Hates Fags” types. Does anyone really think Mayor Liccardo’s city would’ve fielded so insufficient a detachment of officers, or that police commanders would’ve reacted to the aggressive and violent behavior with such passivity? For that matter, would Jennifer Wadsworth have chosen to identify the injured parties as she did — describing one by his political association (and not mentioning his ethnicity, pertinent given the ethnic identity of much of the crowd) and another, a woman, as a bodybuilder, as if that matters? But for Mr. Yi, a man she refers to only as a “protester” (despite the serious allegations made against him), she’s apparently satisfied that his personal life is irrelevant.

  4. Obviously a let down for Trump Team. And the official who tried to turn the tables blaming Trump and his friends of inciting the whole debacle. Complete denial once again. Hey man up City of San Jose, where I am originally from in Santa Clara its nearby neighbor. Protect your citizens who as you can see were non violent and well reserved and orderly folks who want to make America Great Again.

  5. I’ll just leave this link here and remind the people of San Jose, they have what they asked for both in the voting booth and through pressuring the government and rags like this that attacked the moral of agencies because you ate it up like tasty slop (and you still do). If there is one thing the left and right tend to agree on, though for thoroughly different reasons, it’s that we need smaller, less interfering law enforcement agencies. Congratulations, you’ve reached Nirvana! What? Not what you expected? Well, not for lack of trying to tell you that.

  6. Wow.. Jenny Jenny is doing the moderating now. If there is anyone who knows the difference between private forum and public venue speech management it’s someone protected by freedom of the press. ;)

  7. If SJI is not part of “the press” then it’s “reporters” do not have the protection of the laws that shield them from having to reveal their sources.

  8. Remember that whether the disrespect shown to persons’ exercising their political rights and all the talk of “stand down,” that two important principles were violated by the mayor and police chief acting in agreement with each other.

    First was the fact that an important principle requires the free and unthreatened use of public streets and sidewalks, and this principle as tossed to the winds. I remember when it emerged in the Sixties as an absolute, inviolable principle of law and civil rights. Yet the mayor and police chief violated it just like Bull Connor did, albeit without the hoses, just the malice of a violent rent-a-mob. Both their legacies will be tainted by that evening’s work.

    Second was the fact that courts have held for the last century that the core of freedom of speech is political speech whether by a speaker or listener. (Other types of speech include commercial and advertising speech.) This principle was seriously violated by the mayor and police chief. Those two gentlemen cannot walk away from the fact that they violated the very heart of freedom of speech by allowing a rent-a-mob to harass persons emerging from a very political event.

    Shame on the mayor and the police chief. (It is also a shame that the actual police don’t have a better chief.)

  9. This should never have happened. Seeing videos of cars getting keyed and people running up to Trump people and hitting them on the head. This is the reason CA needs to join the rest of the nation in carrying guns. Sorry but if someone was carrying I doubt they would have had the guts to do what they did.

  10. Oh my,
    Sanctuary City status won’t protect the city coffers from being cleaned out by a lawyer with a lot of bruised clients?

    President Trump may just have to cut off all federal funding to outlaw run cities and states till they comple with the law!

    Sorry I voted for you Sam, that won’t happen again!

  11. Trump followers celebrate no-filter expression, not being weak, pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, always being locked and loaded to kick ass at a moments notice, small government, etc. But when they experience aggression it causes “severe emotional distress” and they need to get the bureaucratic wheels turning and have their daddy-lawyer sue somebody. I appreciated the police’s restraint that day. I’m glad the police didn’t start pushing people around and causing a disturbance, which I’ve seen them do many times before, and it usually makes things worse. But they were there in force and their presence was felt. Most of people on both sides were peaceful. There were a handful of smug troublemakers on one side and a handful of amped-up troublemakers on the other. The police did a good job at keeping everyone separated when the rally let out but at some point you have to let people go their way. The troublemakers did what you would expect. Not much different than a typical weekend night downtown.

    • I must admit I’m impressed by Botched. Imagine having the ability to know with certainty the beliefs, values, and politics of every single one of the ten or fifteen thousand people who attended the Trump rally. How brilliantly intuitive must one be to know, at a calamity that spilled out for blocks, that none of the plaintiffs could credibly claim to have suffered distress after being overwhelmed, assaulted, and injured by gangs of young, extremely hostile rioters? I hope Botched reveals his true name so that he can testify on behalf of the city and help convince the judge and/or jury that these Trump supporters, who were denied the police protection every law-abiding citizen deserves, are uniquely undeserving of the court’s recognition of their civil rights.

      • This Trump rally inaction is unfortunately nothing new for San Jose and SJPD. The precedent and procedure was set years ago.

        In 1992, apparently in solidarity with the Rodney King hordes rioting in other cities, SJPD was deployed to handle San Jose’s version, of the Rodney King riots. The riots involved at least several hundred persons who smashed out the windows at the Federal Courthouse downtown, vandalized several businesses, and parked vehicles etc., and threw rocks and bottles at a number of cops in a skirmish line. These “protesters” even set a police car on fire however the police car was quickly extinguished by officers before it was completely destroyed but this was never mentioned in the local press. Even the SJPD command staff tried to conceal the patrol car matter. It was known only to those officers who actually saw the partially burnt patrol car being towed back to the police garage.

        During the riot, while the mob was pressing in on the Police Administration Building, in a revolting display of political correctness and self-interest, then assistant chief Lansdowne (believed to have been contemplating or on the short list for chief of Richmond PD) even took down the flag flying in front of the SJPD Administration Building after some in the crowd threatened to tear the flag down. The SJPD skirmish line protecting the Police Administration Building was told to take no action, so as not to anger the mob.

        At a an officer briefing the following day, a senior officer (who was subsequently disciplined for his open criticism of command staff indecisiveness and inaction during the riot) asked Lansdowne why the officers were not allowed to take action to at least attempt to quell the destructive behavior of the crowd. Lansdowne answered (direct quote) “I had to let it get enough out of hand that the press wouldn’t criticize us too much for shutting it down, especially if we had to use force”. When pressed further, Lansdowne explained that “I didn’t care that much” about the windows at the Federal Courthouse being smashed out because the windows would be repaired at their expense and that the damage to the businesses and personal property destroyed or damaged downtown and elsewhere wasn’t worth the risk (of bad press) of moving in to stop it because “that’s what people have insurance for”.

        Lansdowne obviously set the precedent for the manner that SJPD handles such disturbances. He was obviously ahead of his time and would make an excellent police chief in Ferguson or Baltimore. Let’s hope this trend does not continue. Insurance is expensive.

  12. And what if a Trumpster ( or an anti-Trump protester) was killed? What NOW my friends HMM??
    OH! That’s right a VAST right wing conspriacy in play. S. J. is damn lucky no one got hurt any worse.
    Try it again HOMIES and it will be worse …and NOT for the conservatives.

  13. “Successful behavior is repeated”

    George Soros’ anti-Trump thugs strike again in Minnesota:
    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/08/update-police-stood-back-trump-supporters-assaulted-robbed-spit-pro-hillary-mob/
    Radioactive One-Term Mayor Liccardo and One-Foot-Out-The-Door Police Chief Garcia were derelict and incompetent in failing to recognize the criminal enterprise they were up against. This is what political weakness and lack of leadership looks like.