Hundreds attend pro-Trump caravan in Studio City

Mark Reed, a candidate for California’s 30th Congressional District, poses atop a vehicle during a pro-Trump caravan on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

Emily Holshouser and Samantha Bravo

*Editor’s note: This story contains graphic images and words that may offend some readers. We believe that they are a crucial aspect of telling the most accurate story and have decided to include them in this article.

STUDIO CITY — Hundreds of people gathered at a parking lot in Studio City, near the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Fruitland Drive, for a pro-Trump caravan on Sunday morning.

Several organizations including the Republican Party of Los Angeles and Latinos For Trump were in attendance. Organizers said that the caravan was not planned by one specific group.

The Los Angeles Police Department was present and directed traffic. Organizers, who wore red badges attached to their shirts that said “Rally In The Valley,” directed vehicles with radios. They would not say if they were from a specific organization.

Of the several hundred people in attendance throughout the caravan, very few wore masks. Many attendees said that they did not believe COVID-19 was a threat to them. People were shaking hands and hugging; several people said they were not worried about the spread of the virus.

Merchandise being sold at a pro-Trump caravan in Studio City on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (Emily Holshouser)

“I’m not really concerned. I think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Julie Haff, an organizer for the Republican Party of Los Angeles.

There were multiple tables selling merchandise, including cardboard Trump masks, Trump flags and shirts. Sellers at one table said that the profits would go to the Republican Party of Los Angeles and veterans. Other sellers refused to say where the profits went.

CJ McDonald, a Topanga resident, attended the rally driving a camouflage M923A2, a five-ton troop carrier U.S. military vehicle. He said he received a text message about the rally from an unknown source. McDonald said this rally reminded him of the Ronald Reagan rally he attended at Pierce College in 1984.

“I’m just a local fan of President Trump and the change the country is making,” McDonald said. “I’d like to see four more years. I love the enthusiasm and the direction [the rally] is going. The last time we had one, we had a small percentage of haters … last time it was pretty positive, so we’re looking forward to another positive day today.”

At the last pro-Trump caravan on Aug. 31, violence ensued between the caravan and individuals — who threw glass bottles at the caravan from their apartment — on Ventura Boulevard. Reports of gunfire led to the lockdown of Ventura Boulevard by the police. Police arrested a 28-year-old man, who allegedly pointed a rifle at a participant of the caravan, on suspicion of assault with deadly weapon on Friday, according to KTLA.

Multiple candidates for state and local office were in attendance, including Mark Reed, a candidate for California’s 30th Congressional District, which includes the west San Fernando Valley.

“I’m here because President Trump needs a Congress that actually supports and backs him,” Reed said.

Elsa Aldeguer, a participant who had a Trump flag draped around her shoulders, said some of the organizers were from the Jewish community and Latinos for Trump in California.

“We want to make sure that people know that there’s a lot of us that are not scared to say it and we want what’s best for our country and we’re tired of the Democrats for delegating us and pushing us down, we’ve had enough. We got to the point where enough is enough, we need a change,” Aldeguer said.

Aldeguer said one of the issues facing Los Angeles is immigration: “We have to work on the wall, we have to make sure that we give amnesty to the people that are already here like the Dreamers, people that are living in the darkness, you know they’re illegals, so we want to make sure that they come out and we want to make sure everybody gets help — we’re here for everybody — we don’t discriminate.”

“I’m not advocating for Republicans, I advocate for what’s good for our country. I am doing what I think is right for our country and that is President Trump,” Aldeguer said.

Aldeguer said some protesters are going to the St. Francis Medical Center to show support for the two Los Angeles County officers being treated at the facility. The two deputies were shot and critically injured while on duty in Compton around 7 p.m., according to CNN.

“We need to be with them and let the world know that we support them,” Aldeguer said.

In a press conference Saturday night, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the shooting in Compton was done “in a cowardly fashion.”

“I think President Trump needs to send troops, he needs to stop this nonsense … we need to support the police department, we need to support the blue, they are just like all of us.” Aldeguer said about the shooting.

Aldeguer said she expects thousands of people at the end of the caravan in Woodland Hills.

Throughout the drive through the San Fernando Valley, the caravan grew in size and stopped at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue where people held American flags, wore Trump-themed merchandise and cheered.

David Anderson, a Trump supporter and member of the LGBTQ community, speaks through a megaphone at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue — the endpoint of a pro-Trump caravan on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. When asked about his shirt, Anderson responded, “This is me.” (Emily Holshouser)

Participant David Anderson walked around speaking through a megaphone.

Anderson didn’t say directly if he thought Trump was a supporter of the LGBTQ community.

“Look up Richard Grenell and you tell me if you think Trump likes homos,” he said. Grenell was the former acting director of national intelligence and the first openly gay person to serve in a presidential cabinet.

At one point, a car with a sign that said “Defund Police” drove up to where the caravan had ended. A few attendees surrounded the car and there was a brief verbal altercation.

No arrests were reported.

President Donald J. Trump is scheduled to visit Northern California next week in response to wildfires that have ravaged the state.

*Editor’s note: Story was updated at 7:32 p.m. on Sept. 13 for style, readability and context. Additional updates were made at 11:57 a.m. on Sept. 17 to remove a quote from CJ McDonald due to a reporting error. Another correction was made at 12:55 p.m. on Sept. 18 in regards to the crowd size previously reported.