Stopping America’s next hate-crime killers on social media is no easy task

By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – The pattern is clear: Hate-filled manifestos posted on websites populated by white supremacists, followed by gun attacks against blacks, Jews, Muslims, or Latin American immigrants.

In some cases, the killers use their internet posts to praise previous attacks by other white nationalists. And after new assaults, the manifestos get passed around, feeding the cycle of propaganda and violence.

Following the racially-motivated attack that killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump said he wants police to do more to stop extremists who are active online before they can turn to murder.

But identifying and stopping the extremists who plan to launch an attack is much easier said than done.

Law enforcement experts say that the constitutional right of free speech means police cannot arrest someone simply on the basis of extremist rants online, unless they make a specific threat.

“You couldn’t just open a case on the words,” said Dave Gomez, a retired FBI agent who has worked on cases of both international and domestic terrorism.

“Posting something like that on the internet doesn’t harm anybody,” he said, adding that police can only successfully investigate a white supremacist when you can “connect his words to an overt act.”

The White House will discuss violent extremism online with representatives from a number of internet and technology companies on Friday, according to a White House spokesman.

Social media companies are reluctant to spy on or censor their users, though increasingly they are responding to demands that they take down obvious incitements to violence. And civil rights groups warn that tighter monitoring can lead to unconstitutional abuses of power

Another former FBI agent, who asked not to be identified, said closer monitoring of extremists’ websites would anyway be unlikely to prevent new mass shootings.

“There is not enough manpower. There is not enough technology to properly monitor the internet,” he said. “This is the number one thing we always say in law enforcement: ‘You can’t stop crazy. You can’t even predict crazy.’”

Trump said after the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that he would ask the Justice Department to work with local, state and federal agencies as well as social media companies “to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.”

Even before those attacks, The FBI in early July requested bids for a contractor to help it detect national security threats by trawling through social media sites.

“The use of social media platforms by terrorist groups, domestic threats, foreign intelligence services, and criminal organizations to further their illegal activity creates a demonstrated need for tools to properly identify the activity and react appropriately,” the FBI said in its request.

PRESSURE

Top law enforcement and domestic security officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand met with leading social media and internet companies in London last week, and pushed them to help authorities track suspicious users.

The government officials noted in an agenda paper for the meeting that some companies “deliberately design their systems in a way that precludes any form of access to content, even in cases of the most serious crimes.”

“Tech companies should include mechanisms in the design of their encrypted products and services whereby governments, acting with appropriate legal authority, can obtain access to data in a readable and usable format,” the agenda paper said.

A final statement from the meeting said little about encryption, however, and neither company nor government officials talked about what was discussed.

Facebook and Microsoft confirmed they attended but Google, which was invited, did not respond to a request for comment. Other attendees included Roblox, Snap and Twitter, the statement said.

FBI agents say that broad surveillance powers enacted by Congress in the wake of the Sept., 11, 2001 attacks helped them track international terrorist groups and stop people with links to foreign groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State before they could carry out crimes.

But they key law criminalizing “material support” for terrorism does not apply to investigations or prosecutions of domestic terrorists, such as violent white supremacists, that commit hate crimes.

This week, the FBI Agents Association called on Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime in order to give agents more tools.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which promotes internet civil liberties, said the sheer amount of users posting aggressive content online makes it almost impossible to identify and track the people who pose an actual threat.

“Even though it seems like there is another mass shooting every week, if you are looking at the number of mass shooters versus the total population, it’s still a tiny, tiny number which means this is still a very rare event,” said Jeremy Gillula, the group’s tech products director. “It’s like trying to predict where lightning is going to strike.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Neo-Nazi gets second life sentence in murder of protester in Virginia

FILE PHOTO: James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia police department, Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Charlottesville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Gary Robertson

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – A Virginia state judge on Monday sentenced a self-professed neo-Nazi to a second life prison term for killing a demonstrator when he drove his car into a crowd protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville two years ago.

Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore sentenced James Fields, 22, to life plus 419 years, as recommended by the jury that found him guilty last December of murder plus eight counts of malicious wounding and a hit-and-run offense.

“Mr. Fields, you deserve the sentence the jury gave. What you did was an act of terror,” Moore said.

Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio, who appeared in court on Monday in striped prison garb, had already received a separate life sentence without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in March to federal hate-crime charges stemming from the violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.

Heather Heyer, 32, one of the counter-demonstrators, was killed in the attack, which also injured many others.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said in a statement read in court on Monday that she hoped Fields finds reclamation in prison. “But I also hope he never sees the light of day outside of prison,” she said.

Statements by several victims were also read in court.

The deadly car-ramming capped a day of tension and physical clashes between hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who had gathered in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally, and groups of demonstrators opposed to them.

By the time of the car attack, police had already declared an unlawful assembly and cleared a city park of the white nationalists, who were there to protest removal of statues commemorating two Confederate generals of the U.S. Civil War.

The night before, “Unite the Right” protesters had staged a torch-lit march through the nearby University of Virginia campus chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

The events proved a turning point in the rise of the “alt-right,” a loose alignment of fringe groups centered on white nationalism and emboldened by President Donald Trump’s 2016 election. Trump was strongly criticized by fellow Republicans and by Democrats for saying after Charlottesville that “both sides” were to blame for the violence.

During the state court trial, Fields’ lawyers never disputed that Fields was behind the wheel of the Dodge Charger that sent bodies flying when the vehicle slammed into Heyer and about 30 other people. Instead, the defense suggested that Fields felt intimidated by the hostile crowds.

Prosecutors countered that Fields was motivated by hatred and had come to the rally to harm others. The defendant, who has identified himself as a neo-Nazi, was photographed hours before the car attack carrying a shield with an emblem of a far-right hate group.

Less than a month before the events in Charlottesville, he had posted an image on Instagram showing a car plowing through a crowd of people captioned: “You have the right to protest but I’m late for work.”

(Reporting by Gary Robertson in Charlottesville; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Charlottesville confronts identity one year after clashes

A U.S. flag flies from the back of a car, ahead the one-year anniversary of the fatal white-nationalist rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Joseph Ax

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – For many residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, last year’s white nationalist rally shattered the city’s carefully curated reputation as a progressive, idyllic place to live.

But for Nikuyah Walker, an activist who was elected mayor just three months later, the violent clashes only underscored deep racial and economic inequities that have long divided this picturesque college town. In her view, the rally has forced Charlottesville to confront its own complicated legacy.

“You can have three or four generations who are struggling, and that family has not been able to move out of poverty wages – that’s a significant portion of Charlottesville,” Walker, the city’s first black female mayor, told Reuters outside City Hall. “And then you have this very wealthy community that loves and raves about it.”

As Charlottesville prepares for the one-year anniversary this weekend, it is still agonizing over clashes last year in which one woman was killed when an Ohio man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, stands at the memorial at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, stands at the memorial at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Some residents have argued that the vast majority of the marchers last year were from out of town, but Walker said that narrative ignores the city’s broader problems.

She noted that the main instigators of the “Unite the Right” rally, Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” to describe the loose coalition of white nationalists, and Jason Kessler, a local blogger, graduated from the University of Virginia on the western side of town.

The rally was billed as a protest over the city council’s plan to remove two Confederate statues from downtown parks. Last year, a judge blocked the city from taking down the statues, which are encircled by orange plastic fencing and are off-limits to residents.

Several officials including the police chief, the city manager, and the city attorney left their positions after widespread criticism that Charlottesville had been ill-prepared to manage the hundreds of white nationalists who descended upon it, many armed with shields, clubs and other weapons.

“We recognize that we have to earn the community’s trust,” said Brian Wheeler, the city’s chief spokesman. “The way that we can best do that this year is learn from the mistakes.”

Local and state police have vowed to have zero tolerance for any violence this weekend, in stark contrast with last year when some officers did not intervene to break up fights. Virtually the entire downtown will be closed to vehicles.

Police have said that they are preparing for the worst, even though Kessler, who organized last year’s event, lost a bid to get a permit this year. Instead, he has received permission to rally outside the White House on Sunday and has said he will focus on Washington.

A boy passes tributes written at the site where Heather Heyer was killed during the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A boy passes tributes written at the site where Heather Heyer was killed during the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A CITY AT ODDS WITH ITSELF

The effects of last year’s violence are still felt every day in Charlottesville.

City council meetings have frequently devolved into shouting matches. At a recent community outreach meeting where police officials detailed security plans for this weekend, residents asked one after another how they were supposed to trust the police after 2017.

“Charlottesville has had a tendency to self-congratulation; it’s constantly in the magazines as the best place to live,” said Reverend Will Peyton, who oversees St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“The violence was perpetrated by outsiders, yes, but the response from the black community is like, ‘Really, this isn’t us? We don’t have a problem here?’ Because, of course, there’s entrenched inequality and entrenched structural racism,” Peyton said.

At the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in downtown Charlottesville, an exhibit documents the struggle of black residents who fought for equal access to public education.

“I don’t know that people understood that this narrative of progressive Charlottesville had flaws,” said Andrea Douglas, the center’s executive director. “Now those flaws have been exposed.”

When Mayor Walker, 38, announced her run for city council last spring after years of activism on behalf of low-income residents, she adopted the motto “Unmasking the Illusion,” aiming to dispel the notion that Charlottesville was a diverse, liberal utopia. She has focused her attention on issues like affordable housing and policing.

Last month, she joined residents on what they called a “civil rights pilgrimage” to the lynching museum in Montgomery, Alabama, bringing along soil from a site where a black Charlottesville man was lynched in 1898.

Reverend Tracy Howe Wispelwey, a local activist, said last year’s rally was eye-opening for many in Charlottesville.

“You have a lot of white liberals who have not grappled with our history and want to dismiss it,” she said. “That’s just not truth.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Charlottesville mom keeps daughter’s cause alive a year after death

FILE PHOTO: A photograph of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer is seen amongst flowers left at the scene of the car attack on a group of counter-protesters that took her life during the "Unite the Right" rally as people continue to react to the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. on August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide/File Photo

By Joseph Ax

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – Every few weeks, Susan Bro walks down 4th Street in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, until she gets to a brick wall covered in chalked messages like “Love over hate” and “Gone but not forgotten.”

“I come just to absorb the energy of the place,” Bro, 61, said on Tuesday as she stood on the block now named for her daughter, Heather Heyer, who was killed a year ago while marching against a white supremacist rally.

Since August 12, 2017, when James Fields rammed his car into counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heyer and injuring several others, Bro has channeled her rage and grief into spreading the same message that drew her daughter downtown that day.

Bro said she made a promise to her daughter at her funeral, when she saw her bruised, broken body for the first time and broke down in tears.

“I held her hand and said, ‘I’m going to make this count.'”

Heyer’s death capped a day of clashes after hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others descended upon the city, drawing national attention to the “alt right” movement that had grown bolder since President Donald Trump’s election.

Trump faced intense criticism after the protests when he seemed to equate the white nationalists with the counter-protesters, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Bro said she chose not to return several phone calls from the White House after learning of the president’s remarks.

As the city prepares for the first anniversary of the so-called “Unite the Right” rally, Bro is readying herself for another difficult milestone in a year full of painful moments without Heather.

“The ‘firsts’ are always hardest,” she said, her voice cracking. “I got through the others: Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas. This will be the last one.”

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2018 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, looks at the memorial and writings at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. Picture taken July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2018 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, looks at the memorial and writings at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. Picture taken July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bro said she would bring flowers to Heather Heyer Way on August 12 before speaking at an event to mark the anniversary.

Law enforcement agencies have made extensive plans to combat any potential violence, though the leader of last year’s gathering, local white nationalist Jason Kessler, failed to secure a permit for a sequel this year. Instead, he has obtained a permit to hold a rally in Washington outside the White House.

Before last summer, Bro, a former elementary schoolteacher, led a relatively quiet life, doing secretarial work and living in a modest trailer home about 30 minutes north of Charlottesville.

At Heyer’s memorial service, which drew nearly 2,000 mourners and was broadcast live on large screens, Bro said the national response to the tragedy was “just the beginning of Heather’s legacy.”

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” she said, drawing a standing ovation.

Within weeks of Heyer’s death, Bro created the Heather Heyer Foundation, in part to install a formal and legal structure to handle the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds that poured in from sympathizers around the country.

Bro runs the foundation from her home and from an office at a Charlottesville law firm, filled with tributes to Heyer that she has received over the last year: a portrait painted by an artist, a humanitarian award given posthumously by the Muhammad Ali Center, notes written by Heyer’s friends at her memorial service.

The foundation has organized a scholarship program and is planning to launch a social justice youth program.

Bro found herself making appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show and at MTV’s Video Music Awards. She acknowledged that the intense media attention has caused resentment among some activists in Charlottesville who feel the focus on Heyer, a white woman, has distracted from the racial issues at the core of the clashes.

It has been a bit of a balancing act, she said, to amplify Heyer’s message without making it seem as though her daughter was the only victim who mattered. She noted that violence against black people often does not generate the same level of interest and warned against the “white-centered” narrative that portrayed Heyer as a leader rather than simply one of many people who decided to march.

“The issues have not changed,” Bro said. “We still have police shootings, over-policing, a lack of affordable housing, the prison pipeline.”

A year after burying her daughter, Bro reflected on the activism that brought Heyer to the protests.

“The point of Heather’s death is that we have a responsibility to rise up to address that hate,” Bro said. “Don’t sit by and wring your hands.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

‘America First’ protesters face off with opponents at California beach rally

People protest during an America First rally in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sand

By Olga Grigoryants

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (Reuters) – Anti-immigration demonstrators faced off against a much bigger crowd of counter-protesters in the Southern California town of Laguna Beach on Sunday, as police kept the opposing sides apart.

Around 2,500 people in total showed up for what became a raucous shouting match but did not descend into the kind of violence seen at this month’s clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one person was killed.

A demonstrator faces off with a counter-protester during an America First rally in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., August 20, 2017.

A demonstrator faces off with a counter-protester during an America First rally in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker

Police erected barricades along the oceanfront to deter car attacks like the one in Charlottesville which killed a woman when a suspected white nationalist drove into the crowd.

Dozens of anti-immigration protesters rallying behind President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “America First” were escorted by police through opposing demonstrators who chanted: “Shame” and “No white supremacy”.

Trump’s opponents blame him for boosting far-right sentiment, forcing the president to deny he tacitly supports racists.

“We are not a white supremacism movement but an ‘America First’ movement,” said Beverly Welch, 56, a health assistant protesting against illegal immigration. “We’re trying to save our country.”

Police later declared the remaining protesters an unlawful assembly and forced them to disperse. They made three arrests.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people protested in Boston against a “free speech” rally featuring far-right speakers.

 

(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

 

GoDaddy removes white supremacist website after offensive post

The logo for internet company GoDaddy inc is shown on a computer screen

(Reuters) – The web hosting company GoDaddy said on Sunday it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider after the extremist web site posted an article denigrating the woman who was killed at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

“We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service,” GoDaddy Inc said on its official Twitter page.

The Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi, white supremacist website associated with the alt-right movement, which was spear-heading the rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in violence, including the death of Heather Heyer, who was fatally struck by a car allegedly driven by a man with white nationalist views.

The hosting company’s rules of conduct ban using its services in a manner that “promotes, encourages or engages in terrorism, violence against people, animals or property.” Company representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

The post on Heyer denigrated her physical appearance and what it said were anti-white male views.

On Monday, a note appeared on the Daily Stormer’s home page, which claimed that the site had been taken over by Anonymous, a loose-knit collective of hacker activists that intended to permanently take it offline in 24 hours.

Other original content remained on the Daily Stormer site, including appeals for financial support and the article attacking Heyer.

YourAnonNews, a Twitter feed that promotes attacks conducted by hackers who identify with Anonymous, said it had no confirmation that members of the group were involved.

It said it suspected the notice was posted as a “stunt.”

Daily Storm publisher Andrew Anglin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Scottsdale, Arizona-based GoDaddy, is one of the largest U.S. web hosting providers with some 6,000 employees.

 

(Reporting by Chris Michaud and Jim Finkle; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Zieminski)

 

‘I had to do it,’ accused gunman Dylann Roof says of SC church attack

Emanuel African Methodist Church

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Jurors in the federal hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof watched a video on Friday of the avowed white supremacist confessing to killing nine parishioners at a historic black church in South Carolina and saying he felt he “had to do it.”

Roof told investigators after his arrest for the June 17, 2015, massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston that he estimated he had killed five people as retribution for perceived racial grievances. He sounded surprised to learn nine parishioners died.

“I had to do it because somebody had to do it,” Roof said in the taped confession.

Asked if he had regrets, Roof said, “I’d say so, yes … I regret that I did it, a little bit.”
Roof’s lawyers have not disputed his guilt but hope to spare him from being executed on charges of hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations.

Roof, 22, also faces a death sentence if found guilty of murder charges in state court.

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina,

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, U.S., June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek/File Photo

The videotaped confession, presented on the third day of his federal trial in Charleston, gave jurors a chance to hear the defendant explain why he carried out the attack on a Bible study meeting.

He appeared both animated and at ease as he spoke to investigators, laughing at times as he answered their questions.

Roof spoke with investigators in Shelby, North Carolina, where he was arrested about 13 hours after security video showed him leaving the church.

Inside his car, police said they found a journal where Roof wrote of his dreams for a race war and notes he wrote to his parents.

“Dear Mom, I love you,” read one note presented to jurors. “I’m sorry for what I did. I know this will have repercussions.”

In the video, Roof said white people needed to take a stand against crimes by African Americans.

“I don’t like what black people do,” Roof said, adding he was in favor of reinstating segregation.

He chose the Charleston church for the shooting because he knew “at least a small amount of black people” would be gathered there. Two adults and a child at the Bible study survived.

“It’s like this,” Roof said. “I’m not in a position, by myself, to go into a black neighborhood and shoot drug dealers.”

Nobody ran when he opened fire, he said, and he recalled pausing between shots.

“I was thinking about what I should do,” he said.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)

California police probe violent clash at white supremacist rally

Anti-fascist counter-protestors parade through Sacramento after multiple people were stabbed during a clash between neo-Nazis holding a permitted rally and counter-protestors on Sunday at the state capitol in Sacramento, California, United States, June 26,

By Eric M. Johnson and Justin Madden

(Reuters) – At least 10 people were injured at a rally outside the California state capitol in Sacramento on Sunday as members of a white supremacist group clashed with counter-protesters, authorities said.

The melee erupted during a rally staged by the Traditionalist Worker Party, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist extremist group.

One of its leaders, Matt Parrott, said the party had called the demonstration in part to protest against violence that has broken out outside recent rallies by Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The incident may fuel concerns about the potential for violent protests outside the major party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this summer and in the run-up to the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“With the eyes of the world’s media on both Philadelphia and Cleveland, no doubt there will be significant protests,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale. “The extreme rhetoric, combined with the nonstop media attention, does encourage these kinds of events.”

In Sacramento, when the white supremacists arrived at the capitol building at about noon on Sunday, “counter-protesters immediately ran in – hundreds of people – and they engaged in a fight,” said George Granada, a spokesman for the Capitol Protection Service division of the California Highway Patrol.

In announcing the counter-protest, a group called Anti-Fascist Action Sacramento said on its website that it had a “moral duty” to deny a platform for “Nazis from all over the West Coast” to voice their views.

“We have a right to self defense. That is why we have to shut them down,” Yvette Felarca, a counter-protester wearing a white bandage on her head, told reporters after the clash.

The Sacramento Fire Department said 10 patients were treated at area hospitals for multiple stabbing and laceration wounds.

None of the injuries were life-threatening and there were no immediate reports of arrests, Granada said. The building was placed on lockdown.

Matthew Heimbach, chairman of Traditionalist Worker Party, said his group had expected violence even though it planned a peaceful rally and had a permit.

“We were there to support nationalism. We are white nationalists,” Heimbach told Reuters. “We were there to take a stand.”

Representatives of the Sacramento police could not be reached immediately for further comment.

Video footage on social media showed dozens of people, some of them wearing masks and wielding what appeared to be wooden bats, racing across the capitol grounds and attacking others.

Photos on social media showed emergency officials treating a victim on the grass in the area as police officers stood guard.

The melee comes about four months after four people were stabbed during a scuffle between members of the Ku Klux Klan and counter-protesters near a KKK rally in Anaheim, California.

In recent months Trump has blamed “professional agitators” and “thugs” for violence that has broken out at many of the Republican candidate’s rallies.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, last month, anti-Trump protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers who responded with pepper spray. A month earlier, some 20 demonstrators were arrested outside a Trump rally in Costa Mesa, California.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Fiona Ortiz and Justin Madden in Chicago; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Chris Reese)