A man was arrested Saturday after spraying a crowd of anti-Trump protesters with bear repellent at the Santa Monica Pier.
Santa Monica Police Department Lt. Candice Cobarrubias said David Dempsey, 32, of Orange County, was arrested for prohibited use of a tear gas weapon and assault with a caustic chemical. Dempsey dispersed the bear repellent at about 1:20 p.m. as a group of President Donald Trump supporters argued with and then started fighting with anti-Trump protesters who had marched onto the Pier after holding a rally on the beach calling for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to be driven from office.
A YouTube video shows Dempsey, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, spraying protesters with pepper spray intended as bear repellent and at one point spraying a man lying on the ground in the face. The Associated Press reported that another Trump supporter also sprayed protesters with pepper spray.
The video shows Dempsey telling police officers that he didn’t do anything wrong and claiming the protesters attacked him.
“It’s these f— libtards over here, these commies,” he said. “I didn’t do anything.”
County records show Dempsey was previously convicted of burglary in 2006 and 2009 and of larceny and conspiracy in 2012. He is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court for an arraignment hearing on Tuesday.
Cobarrubias said officers detained Dempsey and paramedics provided medical aid to protesters and non-involved Pier patrons affected by the bear repellent.
“Protestors from both groups dispersed after the incident but were monitored by officers in the event another escalation started,” Cobarrubias said. “No further incidents occurred.”
The leftist anti-Trump group Refuse Fascism planned the Saturday protest as part of its pro-impeachment campaign, “Out Now,” said Refuse Fascism Los Angeles organizer Chantelle Hershberger. The group held a similar protest in New York City on Saturday in front of Trump Tower.
Hershberger said Refuse Fascism spelled out “Trump Pence Out Now” with fabric stretching 100 yards down Santa Monica State Beach south of the Pier. She said the group held a rally for about half an hour before marching onto the Pier to perform a die-in for the victims of an August mass shooting in El Paso carried out by a white nationalist and migrants who have died in American immigrant detention centers.
Trump supporters began circling the protesters as they lay on the Pier and tried to antagonize them, Hershberger said. They then started pushing the protesters, and Dempsey and another man sprayed protesters with pepper spray. They targeted Refuse Fascism’s leadership, she said.
“The people they got were people they know as leadership because they follow our social media pages and our protests,” Hershberger said.
She added that Refuse Fascism received screenshots of the attackers’ social media posts that indicated they were planning to violently disrupt the protest.
“People who are friends with them who are Trump supporters but don’t condone violence sent screenshots of their social media posts as a warning to us,” she said. “One post said, “bring your mace, bring your bats”.”
Hershberger said Trump supporters have been emboldened by his rhetoric to attack anti-Trump protesters. Refuse Fascism will continue its “Out Now” campaign nationwide, she added.
“A key component of fascism consolidating is these kinds of mobs intimidating people out of expressing dissent in the streets,” she said. “This attack shows why more people need to be nonviolently protesting in the streets to drive this regime from power.”