Several hundred pro-Trump individuals gathered in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday for what organizers termed a “wild protest” in solidarity with the mob at the U.S. Capitol. A flyer promoting the event posted online stated that “President Trump has put out a call to all able bodied Americans to take action and show up,” and featured a photograph of Governor Gavin Newsom doctored with a mustache in the style of Adolf Hitler.
At its largest, the Sacramento Bee reports there may have been as many as 300 pro-Trump demonstrators outside the California Capitol, where they were met by a significant police presence.
A smaller number of counter-protesters also gathered at the scene, and around 1 p.m. there were reports of escalating clashes involving the three groups. What began as verbal arguments reportedly became physical confrontations.
The Bee reports that, following one incident where six counter-protesters were encircled by Trump supporters, police attempted to escort the counter-protesters to a safe area to continue their demonstration. At that time, a group described as “Proud Boys and other Trump supporters” surrounded both counter-protesters and the police. At least one counter-protester was reportedly hit in the face with pepper spray; a pepper spray can was found moments later in the possession of an individual in the pro-Trump group.
Sacramento’s CBS 13 reported that the demonstration appeared to be used by some as an opportunity to gather signatures for the campaign to recall Gavin Newsom.
After several hours of protests and skirmishes, most of the crowd dispersed around 2 p.m. as rain began to fall in the area.
State lawmakers and their staffs had been warned to expect a large and potentially dangerous demonstration in advance and to only be at the building today if absolutely required. The Capitol and Legislative Office Buildings were closed to all but essential staff and additional security protocols and road closures were in place.
Governor Newsom canceled a scheduled afternoon briefing about the COVID-19 pandemic due to the events in Sacramento and D.C., and released a statement focused on the events at the U.S. Capitol, which he described as “reprehensible.”
“We are concerned for the safety of California’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Capitol staff, and are reaching out to offer support in every way possible,” the statement reads. “President Trump must call for an end to this escalating situation, acknowledge the will of the people to bring President-Elect Biden to the White House, and move immediately to a peaceful transition of power.”