President Donald Trump arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon for a high-dollar fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Ed Glazier and his wife Shari.
Making his first official visit to California since taking office, Trump is headlining an event for the Republican National Committee. Tickets are priced $35,000 for individuals and $50,000 per couple, with a top price of $250,000 to contribute to the RNC and other committees.
Even though the exact location was kept under wraps until Tuesday, there were protests in Beverly Hills. At least 1,000 gathered and chanted anti-Trump slogans.
“Say it loud, say if clear, immigrants are welcome here,” a group of immigrant advocates chanted as cars honked their horns on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“California needs a wall to keep Trump out,” read one sign. Other signs contained expletives aimed at the president.
Trump landed at Los Angeles International Airport at about 3:30 p.m., and was greeted by Shawn Steel, Republican National Committeeman from California, and his wife Michelle Steel, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Also there was Andy Gharakhani, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of New Majority.
Shawn Steel, the former chairman of the California Republican Party, said that “my guess is that [the fundraiser] is going to be much better attended than it was during the campaign.” He said that the event was expected to draw a lot of longtime GOP donors from the region, as he has consolidated his support with those who had doubts about his candidacy.
He said that he thought that Trump waited until now to visit the Golden State because the state is “not a priority” compared to other places, like Wisconsin and Michigan, states he won in 2016.
“If you took California out of the equation, he would get well over 50% of the vote,” Steel said.
Still, he said that he wanted to tell Trump to “come out more often. You have more friends out here than might be told.”
The fundraiser event is being hosted by Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman; Todd Ricketts, the national finance chairman, and Elliott Broidy, the deputy national finance chairman.
The Glaziers live in a sprawling mansion in Beverly Park, a gated community of massive homes in the hills just below Mulholland Drive.
Trump finished the night in downtown Los Angeles, where streets were being blocked off surrounding the Wilshire Grand Center, the site of the InterContinental Hotel. Protests also were staged near the hotel, with a few dozen demonstrators chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear. Immigrants are welcome here.”
At the demonstration at Beverly Gardens Park, Gene Williams, a 60-year-old retired construction worker, said he braved traffic and some light rain to attend.
“When the president comes to town, it’s the perfect time for me and people in the resistance to get our message out,” Williams said. “His campaign was an obscenity, scapegoating the most vulnerable in our society. Racism and bigotry, these are not our values.”
Raised in a Republican family, Williams said he fears the “our country, our institutions, our way of life are in danger.”
Carlos Marroquin, a community organizer who was involved in the staging of the protest, said they are driving home the point that Trump is not welcome in California.
Marroquin criticized the president for failing to visit California after a number of deadly forest fires. “He never bothered to come here,” he said.
He continued that the president and his administration should focus on improving conditions for the working class, and that he thinks the protest will grow to several thousand.
There was at least one Trump supporter present Tuesday.
Gregg Donovan, an unemployed actor, said the strong economy is proof that Trump’s presidency is going well.
“He’s a business man and getting stuff done,” he said. As for Dreamers, “you’ll see in the long run” that he’ll take care of them, Donovan said.
Labor leader and California state senate candidate Maria Elena Durazo led the crowd in chants of “Disobey Trump!” from the back of truck where the protest program began.
Addressing Trump, she said “We are not going to obey your racist directives.”
She criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, pointing out that immigrants make up a large portion of hospitality employees at Trump hotels and resorts. “He would not be a rich man without immigrants,” she yelled.
The protests continued into Tuesday evening, when demonstrators had gathered in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The heavily-barricaded streets contained the demonstrations to smaller groups. Organizers led the crowds in chants of “What do we want? Trump out? When do we want it? Now!”