San Jose: Supporters line up to hear Donald Trump as police gird for protests

By Julia Prodis Sulek and Matthew Artz, Staff writer

06/02/2016 04:24:02 PM PDT | Updated: 9 min. ago

SAN JOSE -- Hours before Donald Trump was even set to speak in downtown San Jose Thursday, supporters draped in American flags and red, white and blue lined up for blocks to see the New York billionaire, as police girded for a long night.

Many San Jose police officers only learned of the rally from a Wednesday departmental email blast alerting them that it would be all hands on deck to keep the peace.

They shut down the entire detective bureau, put everybody in uniform, and said 'plan on being here all night," said Officer James Gonzales, who is also vice president of the police union.

With many officers already working overtime to fill patrol vacancies in the undermanned department, Gonzales said, some officers will have work upward of 20 hours straight.

"It's a dangerous situation, he said. "Everybody is really nervous about what will happen."

Mayor Sam Liccardo said the city hadn't estimated how much all the police overtime will end up costing.

"This is the price of democracy and free speech," he said. "We need to ensure that demonstrators as well as supporters of Donald Trump are equally safe to express their views. And we want to ensure that none of the violent confrontations that we've seen in other cities emerge in San Jose."

Protesters were expected later, but those who got in line early at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center had nothing but high spirits and adulation for the Republican presidential candidate.

"He speaks from his heart. He understands integrity and the values of America," said Liz Ritchie, a retired educator from the Contra Costa County town of Knightsen. "He's fearless and confronts the lies and misinformation. He stands his ground."

Trump is expected to address the crowd at 7 p.m.

James Thompson, 17, who just graduated from Independence High School in San Jose, called Trump "brave" for speaking his mind and for supporting the idea of closing the border with Mexico. "He says what's on everyone else's mind," Thompson said.

"I don't think he cares about speaking high and sophisticated," he said, "but on a level with everyone."

He's working as a janitor in a law office and hopes, with Trump as president, he will have better job opportunities. "I just want to work," he said.

Brian Gordon drove up from Monterey County to support the candidate he hopes will get rid illegal immigrants who are criminals. He lived in Watsonville for seven years, he said, and lived within blocks of four murders.

"Watsonville has an extremely high percentage of illegal immigrants," he said, although he said he didn't know whether the suspects were illegal or not.

He doesn't expect Trump to follow through on all his campaign promises, and he doesn't agree with everything he said, but he likes that Trump is "unfiltered."