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OCR: Police Break-Up Fight at Republican Party of OC Party


January 19, 2022


Police were called to step in after a group of conservatives wearing orange shirts that said “RINO hunters,” with crosshairs making a target of the “O,” tried to storm a Republican Party of Orange County meeting in Costa Mesa on Monday night.

Police were called to step in after a group of conservatives wearing orange shirts that said “RINO hunters,” with crosshairs making a target of the “O,” tried to storm a Republican Party of Orange County meeting in Costa Mesa on Monday night.

The group was led by Nick Taurus, a self-proclaimed American Nationalist who last year spearheaded a protest during a town hall for Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, that turned violent. After provocation from Taurus’ group, a Porter supporter threw a punch and was arrested.

Taurus, R-Laguna Hills, is now challenging GOP Rep. Young Kim in the CA-40 House race. He’s labeled Kim, who’s been endorsed by the OCGOP as a RINO, a derogatory name used by the far-right for more moderate politicians who they deem “Republican in name only.”

The clash reflects a growing schism in the Republican party, pitting those who strive to elect GOP candidates in purple areas like Orange County, and those on the far right, who remain fiercely loyal to former President Donald Trump.

The party said on Jan. 12 that because of the coronavirus surge attendance at Monday night’s OCGOP meeting — which was aimed at endorsing candidates for the 2022 election cycle — would be limited to members of the Central Committee due to the coronavirus surge.

“There are important endorsement requests that must be voted on, but we recognize the spike in covid cases across Orange County,” the announcement said. “It is important that we as a party take care of business, but we must also take care of ourselves and each other.”

But some local Republicans didn’t agree with that decision.

Photos and videos shared to social media show a couple dozen people wearing orange RINO shirts in the lobby of the building where the meeting was being held. A witness told the Register one member tried to push past people at the door, grabbing at the handle to get inside. Police then are seen directing the protestors outside, while other people are waved by and allowed into the meeting room.

Once outside, Taurus is seen in videos, wearing a “make America great again” hat, arguing with GOP Latino activist Jesse Suave over amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Taurus supporters and Suave engaged in verbal clashes, with shouts to “back the f— up” and saying “what are you going to do?”

Costa Mesa Police say they were called to the meeting at 6:39 p.m. Monday on reports that a group of about 20 demonstrators were refusing to leave the “private political meeting,” according to department spokesperson Roxi Fyad. Officers contacted the demonstrators, told them to take it to the sidewalk, and they complied, Fyad said.

No one was detained, she said, and police weren’t aware of any physical altercation.

A spokesman for the county GOP offered a written statement that included this:

“The Costa Mesa Police Department was called when (a) group continued to disrupt our meeting and the business of the venue.

“As a party, we welcome a healthy debate of ideas. That cannot occur in the manner these individuals conducted themselves. The safety of our members, guests and staff are of the utmost importance to our organization.”

Taurus has been involved in multiple protests that have turned physical in the past, including free speech rallies at Cal State Fullerton and Orange Coast College in 2017. Videos circulating on social media also show him disrupting a 2020 racial justice protest in Yorba Linda. In that video he is seen stealing and ripping up someone’s Black Lives Matter sign. His social media posts tout conspiracy theories about the Clinton family, the “gay mafia” and “anti-White racism.”

After the incident at Porter’s town hall, Taurus said in a live Instagram video that someone from the Republican Party of Orange County sent an invitation for his group to attend the Democrat’s town hall and “press” Porter about what she’s doing to help eastern O.C.’s 45th District. Now, Taurus said via social media, his group is being shut out by the same party.

Brian Burley, an OCGOP Central Committee member who’s running against Porter in the new 47th District, said the crowd was loud but calm when he walked into the meeting. He said he never had any safety concerns, and everyone was gone by the time he left at 9:45 p.m.

Burley had asked party Chair Fred Whitaker in a public letter Jan. 5 to postpone the endorsement meeting following the death of party leader Kelly Ernby. He clashed with Whitaker last election cycle, when he was facing Michelle Steel in the CA-48 race, over the party making early endorsements of establishment candidates.

Ernby had been planning to run for the 72nd Assembly District before her death early this month from COVID-19. On Monday night, the OCGOP endorsed Diane Dixon for the seat.