SAN DIEGO — Donald Trump’s much-anticipated arrival in San Diego on Friday was mostly peaceful until a few arrests, injuries and small fights among crowds of supporters and protesters outside the Convention Center after his speech ended.

They included a clash near Harbor Drive where thrown items were hitting people in the head and several small street fights in the same area, as the environment outdoors became tense when anti-Trump crowds started to mix with his supporters just before 5 p.m.

In addition, 18 people received medical attention and San Diego police declared an unlawful assembly in the Gaslamp Quarter due to violence about 4:40 p.m., announcing in Spanish and English that people needed to disperse. Officers with riot gear were moving among the crowd.

Several people were also throwing plastic bottles, some that hit police officers, near Petco Park on L Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Also nearby, a man with a “Make America Great Again” hat took it off and burned it among a crowd.

For most of the day prior to those problems, people for and against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee avoided physical confrontations, opting instead for heckling and jeering each other off and on near the Convention Center.

The only incident before Trump finished speaking was a police officer clubbing an anti-Trump protester trying to climb over a railing about 3 p.m.

Trump, who arrived at San Diego International Airport just before 1:30 p.m., spoke to thousands inside the convention center starting about 2:30 p.m.

Before his speech, several thousand protesters and supporters swarmed the streets near the Convention Center and spilled into the Gaslamp Quarter, prompting some unplanned road closures and temporary interruptions in trolley service.

Motorcycle officers who lined Harbor Drive outside stopped a large group of anti-Trump protesters and directed them to designated, fenced areas known as “free speech zones.”

In addition, about 200 people carrying anti-Trump banners and signs marched through city streets with a police escort near Horton Plaza.

Pro-Trump designated free speech areas were less crowded, but many of his supporters had left the streets about 11 a.m. when the doors were opened to the Convention Center.

During the morning, Trump supporters dominated the scene. They wore red “Make America Great Again” hats, Trump T-shirts and Trump buttons and some chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A, U.S.A.”

They also jeered as a car with posters for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drove by and honked.

Jan Andrews was the first person in line at 12:30 a.m. Carrying Trump’s biography, which she read while waiting, Andrews said she got there early because she wanted to shake the candidate’s hand.

Andrews said she supports Trump because he is “a very good speaker and he has the courage of his convictions.”

As the time of his speech drew closer, Trump protesters began to dominate.

They carried Trump pinatas labeled “racist” and “bigot” and carried signs saying “Racist go home” and “Mexican lawyer, not a rapist.”

Nate Snell of Encanto wore a Black Lives Matter pin and several Bernie Sanders pins, and said he was frustrated by Trump’s stances on immigration.

“I’ve never been a fan of hate speech my entire life,” he said.

Other anti-Trump protesters carried signs with slogans such as “No hate No racism No Trump,” “You can’t comb over racism,” “Humanity against Trump,” Without immigrants Trump would have no wives,” and “Hey, Trump, I’ve met Reagan and you’re no Reagan.”

Trump supporters carried signs with slogans such as “Gays for Trump,” “Arab Christians for Trump” and “Young Democrats for Trump.” In addition, one man wrapped himself in a giant “Trump for President 2016” flag.

There was also one puzzling banner: “God hates paid protesters.”

About 12:30 p.m., Trump supporters and detractors started heckling each other near the Convention Center, exchanging heated remarks about each other and the candidate. Some of the taunts were shouted from a distance while others used bullhorns. Several tense confrontations got close and personal, with crowds hemming in the hecklers on all sides, but no blows were thrown.

Those confrontations got more intense and sometimes a bit violent after Trump’s speech, when his supporters flooded out of the Convention Center,

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said at her noon briefing that there were about 1,000 protesters at that time, but that number appeared to climb quickly as the day wore on.

Authorities reported three people who required medical attention, a suspicious bag that was investigated and found harmless, and a rubbish fire of unknown origins behind the Convention Center that was quickly doused.

For months now, Trump rallies have been the source of violent protests.

Recent confrontations include one in New Mexico on Tuesday, where people lit fires and threw rocks at Albuquerque police officers. On Wednesday, protesters were arrested during clashes with police at a Trump rally in Anaheim.

In San Diego, people were being allowed to demonstrate outside of the designated free speech zones, but they were required to follow laws and avoid blocking pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

Trump was in Billings, Mont. on Thursday and then went to Fresno for a Friday morning rally there before heading to San Diego.

The protesters who marched near Horton Plaza were union workers accompanied by City Councilman David Alvarez. They shouted slogans as they paraded on Sixth Avenue, B Street and C Street, where a trolley was halted and motorcycle police also helped clear a path for the marchers.

Francine Busby, head of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said earlier this week that her group helped coordinate half a dozen local Trump protests with a coalition of organizations representing Latinos, women, veterans and others.

Chief Zimmerman said police officials had conferred with their counterparts in Albuquerque and Anaheim about their recent experiences. Zimmerman said law enforcement agencies have identified some protesters who have attempted to disrupt various Trump events and that local police will keep an eye out for them.

From early crowd estimates, it appeared the Trump rally on Friday would end up drawing somewhat smaller crowds than a March rally for Sanders in San Diego.

Staff writers Dana Littlefield, Phillip Molnar and Joshua Stewart contributed to this story.

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(c)2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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