Protesters Gearing Up to Battle Donald Trump at USS Iowa

GOP frontrunner is set to deliver national security speech on the battleship Tuesday in San Pedro, California

One day before the second Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, Donald Trump is taking his campaign to the USS Iowa in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The GOP frontrunner will share his views on national security and veterans issues Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., in an event billed as both a campaign rally and a fundraiser for a conservative veterans group.

But critics contend Trump’s visit is not an appropriate use of the battleship, which is docked in L.A. as a nonprofit tourist attraction.

Crowd control officers arrive ahead of Donald Trump's speech (Credit: Itay Hod)
Crowd control officers arrive ahead of Donald Trump’s speech (Credit: Itay Hod)

An online petition, “Tell the USS Iowa: We Don’t Want Trump in San Pedro,” has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures from area residents calling for the event to be canceled.

“This battleship is part of American history and should not allow a man who has injured and insulted a significant portion of the Los Angeles community,” wrote Gabriela Lopez of San Pedro, who started the petition on “We are for freedom of speech, however this ship represents freedom, equality and justice; terms that do not align with Mr. Trump’s political views.”

Battleship Iowa President and CEO Jonathan Williams said the ship was rented at market rate for the gathering, and cash raised by renting it for special events helps support ship maintenance and educational programs.

Los Angeles Port Police cars line up ahead of Trump's Speech (Credit: Itay Hod)
Los Angeles Port Police cars line up ahead of Donald Trump’s speech (Credit: Itay Hod)

While 1,500 to 2,000 people have purchased tickets to attend Trump’s speech, protesters are planning demonstrations at the waterfront promenade near the battleship.

Several state elected officials, upset about Trump’s controversial anti-immigration stance and his remarks on Arizona Senator John McCain’s war record, also plan to attend the protests.

During a speech at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, in July, Trump said that McCain was “not a war hero” and that he preferred people that “weren’t captured.”

The Veterans for a Strong America, a conservative organization sponsoring the private event, said on its website that all proceeds will go “towards helping Veterans for a Strong America supporting our warriors on and off the battlefield and not to any candidate or candidate’s committee.”