Demonstrations in OC Over Death of George Floyd; 1 Arrested


ANAHEIM (CNS) - Several demonstrations tied to the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis were held today in Orange County and were largely trouble-free except for an incident involving a driver in Newport Beach who's accused of purposefully hitting a bicyclist.

Four separate Black Lives Matter protests were scheduled in Newport Beach, and at least another six protests were planned throughout the county, according to Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis.

About 500 protesters took part in the first rally, city spokesman John Pope said. A noontime demonstration was held at MacArthur Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, and another protest this afternoon at the Newport Pier drew 300 to 400 people and was peaceful, said Heather Rangel, a spokeswoman for the police department.

The other scheduled Newport Beach events were 5 p.m. protests at San Miguel Drive and Avocado Avenue, and at Back Bay View Park at Jamboree Road and Pacific Coast Highway.

Police were called at 4:24 p.m. to Balboa Boulevard West and 14th Street, where a Mini Cooper “grazed'' others in the crowd before striking a bicyclist, Rangel said. Otherwise, the protests in Newport Beach were peaceful, she said.

Don Wallace, who is in his 50s and resides in Newport Beach, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Rangel said.

The bicyclist told Fox 11, “As all of us are walking and myself biking, a crazed man in a Mini Cooper comes flying the other direction, intentionally weaving to try and hit the crowd. Hit me, hit multiple other people behind me, and ruined my bike.''

A witness, who saw the suspect get arrested, told the news station: “I saw him lying to the police, trying to say that protesters were hitting his car and assaulting him. And I saw it from my balcony, so I set them straight. It was purposeful. I saw him step on that gas. I saw him hit people ... children were running. That guy didn't care. No lives matter to him.''

The businesses within the Fashion Island shopping center decided to close and board up in anticipation of the protests.

In Garden Grove -- where a 6 p.m. curfew was in effect -- an afternoon protest attracted 3,000 people, with the group blocking the intersection of Chapman Avenue and Brookhurst Street, Garden Grove Police Lt. Carl Whitney said.

Earlier Wednesday, Anaheim police closed several streets around City Hall to provide a safe space for protesters in advance of a 10 a.m. demonstration. By 10:30 a.m. a small, peaceful crowd could be seen gathering in front of City Hall.

As noon approached, the group had grown to about 500 protesters who marched around the city, Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer said.

“It's completely peaceful,'' Carringer said of the gathering. “We've had great communication with organizers of the protests and they've actually shorted their march route to accommodate the size of the protest, so we're giving them traffic control to give them the route they want.''

Protesters marched from the Westbound Center Street Promenade to Harbor Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue to Anaheim Boulevard to City Hall, Carringer said.

By 1:30 p.m., the vast majority of the crowd had dispersed, leaving a “vocal but peaceful'' group of about 60 to 80 protesters, he said.

A protest in Rancho Santa Margarita drew about 100 people, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Photo: Getty Images

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