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Weekend Protest In Downtown Sacramento Once Again Devolves Into Violence Between Proud Boys, Counter-Protesters

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Kris Hooks / CapRadio
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Sacramento Police officers form a line, blocking anitfa counter-protesters from reaching the Trump supporters they briefly had a confrontation with in downtown Sacramento on Dec. 12, 2020.

For weeks, Sacramento police have established a perimeter around the unpermitted pro-Trump demonstrations at the state Capitol to separate them from black-clad counter-protesters. While things inside the perimeter have largely remained peaceful, violence has spilled over in the surrounding streets.

Sacramento police arrested six people Saturday on a range of charges, from felony assault of an officer to weapons possession, as well outstanding warrants, according to an email from a department spokesperson.

Five officers sustained minor injuries throughout the day, according to the email.

The pro-Trump demonstrators gathered for the sixth straight weekend since the presidential election, which former Vice President Joe Biden won. The demonstrators claim the election was “stolen” from President Donald Trump, a claim that has been rejected by numerous judges across the country — including, most recently, justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The demonstrations next to the Capitol have also drawn vaccine skeptics, COVID-19 deniers and critics of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.

The violent clashes have been primarily between the Proud Boys, a far-right paramilitary group, and antifa counter-protesters.

The Anti-Defamation League labels the Proud Boys as a “misogynistic” and “anti-immigration” organization, with some members “espous[ing] white supremacist” ideologies.

Trump and his supporters argue antifa is a “terrorist organization” prone to inciting street violence, though the State Department has refused to make this designation.

During one violent exchange on Saturday, a large group of counter-protesters confronted two Proud Boys at the entrance of a parking garage. After a counter-demonstrator threw something, the Proud Boys began spraying the crowd with mace.

A short time later, a Trump supporter holding a baton verbally antagonized the group. A number of counter-protesters rushed the man and beat him in an alley.

Police tried numerous times to divide the two clashing groups, with limited success.

At one point, a group of Proud Boys walked around the block to avoid a line of officers and then violently confronted counter-protesters. Shoving, fisticuffs and threats with weapons ensued from both sides.

Protesters carried mace, batons, metal rods and one man brandished a sword.

Counter-protesters continued marching through downtown as police followed on bicycles, with a foot-patrol cavalry close behind carrying batons, projectile weapons and mace. On at least one occasion, police fired projectiles at protesters.

The two groups briefly met again near Roosevelt Park, where counter-protesters began their march, until police broke up the two sides and rushed the counter-demonstrators. Officers tackled several protesters and made arrests.

Police SUVs briefly chased a truck that had escorted the group of counter-protesters through downtown. The driver was detained and issued a citation, and police seized the vehicle.

In a recent press release, the department said violent demonstrations have been a significant drain on the department, requiring the redeployment of detectives and outreach officers from their usual posts to help control the crowds.

On CapRadio’s Insight, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn explained some of the challenges of taking enforcement action during the recent protests.

“If we can make arrests, we will,” he said, but added that many people — including victims of violence — are unwilling to cooperate with police or give their names.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio

Scott Rodd