San Francisco – Fourteen California Donald Trump supporters filed a civil rights lawsuit Thursday, saying that San Jose’s police failed to protect them from violent protesters after a campaign rally last month.
The lawsuit is seeking class-action status on behalf of all Trump supporters who were attacked after the June 2 campaign rally in downtown San Jose. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The supporters are represented by lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who is vice chair of the California Republican Party.
The lawsuit says that San Jose police’s response to mounting attacks on Trump supporters was tepid and tardy. San Jose police arrested 20 people after the melee and said two dozen people reported assaults.
City attorney Rick Doyle said he hasn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it. But Doyle said it appeared the police acted appropriately and “protected a lot of people from getting hurt.”
Doyle said the police “did all they could do, and it’s not fair to bash them.”
Police in riot gear stood their ground for about 90 minutes as violence escalated before breaking up scuffles and making arrests.
San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia the next day commended his officers’ response to the violence, saying the 250 officers on hand showed “discipline and restraint.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, criticized Trump for coming to cities and igniting problems that local police departments had to address. “At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign,” Liccardo told The Associated Press the night of the rally.
Dhillon, the supporters’ attorney, said Thursday that those and other public comments from top city officials show “that their inaction was colored by political viewpoint considerations.”