Trump supporters' days of demonstrating on Lafayette overpass may be numbered

Demonstrators gathered on a freeway overpass in Lafayette Friday afternoon but their days there may be numbered.

The city of Lafayette is poised to ask Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol to intervene.

The protests happen on the El Curtola overpass above Highway 24 in Lafayette. City leaders say that's not safe.

Every Friday and Monday evening for nearly seven months, supporters of former President Donald Trump protest on the El Curtola Boulevard overpass.

"This particular location is effective for getting our message out to the public and the primary reason why we're out here is to get our voice heard," says Matthew Tarantino, a protestor with Contra Costa County Patriots.  

But some say the overpass is not a forum for messages of any kind.

One driver stopped in the middle of the overpass to confront a protestor by shining a light at him.

KTVU asked the driver, who declined to give his name, why he confronted the protestors.  

"It's a safety hazard and you're not allowed to put your signs up on the fence. They have no right to do that. They can stand there with their flags but they can't put them on the fence," says the driver. 

Critics say the protestors, signs and flags on the overpass distract drivers and may have caused vehicle accidents in the area.

"This issue is the one that keeps me up at night," says Lafayette Mayor Susan Candell.

In a city council meeting last month, Mayor Candell spoke about the need to address safety concerns with Caltrans, the agency that owns the overpass, and the CHP's role in enforcing any violations by the protestors.

"We take this very seriously. We understand first amendment right. We understand the impacts to the neighborhood," says Mayor Candell.  

But protestors say city leaders are trying to silence their voices

"We have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of protest. It's called the first amendment and we intend to exercise it," says Lisa Disbrow, protest organizer with Contra Costa County Patriots.

Caltrans prohibits the hanging of signs on the overpass. 

The CHP says it monitors protests and traffic flow. But that it is not illegal for people to demonstrate  on the overpass.

"It's not necessarily about free speech. It's about public safety," says one neighbor who asked KTVU not to use his name.  

On Monday, the city council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that will ask Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol to enforce regulations that will stop protestors from hanging signs and flags on the overpass.