Clash at California Capitol Leaves over 10 Injured
At least 10 people were injured at a rally outside the California state capitol in Sacramento as members of a white supremacist group clashed with counter-protesters, US authorities said.
The melee erupted on Sunday during a rally staged by the Traditionalist Worker Party, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist extremist group, Reuters reported.
One of its leaders, Matt Parrott, said the party had called the demonstration in part to protest against violence that has broken out outside recent rallies by Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
The incident may fuel concerns about the potential for violent protests outside the major party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this summer and in the run-up to the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“With the eyes of the world’s media on both Philadelphia and Cleveland, no doubt there will be significant protests,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale. “The extreme rhetoric, combined with the nonstop media attention, does encourage these kinds of events.”
In Sacramento, when the white supremacists arrived at the capitol building at about noon on Sunday, “counter-protesters immediately ran in – hundreds of people – and they engaged in a fight,” said George Granada, a spokesman for the Capitol Protection Service division of the California Highway Patrol.
In announcing the counter-protest, a group called Anti-Fascist Action Sacramento said on its website that it had a “moral duty” to deny a platform for “Nazis from all over the West Coast” to voice their views.
“We have a right to self defense. That is why we have to shut them down,” Yvette Felarca, a counter-protester wearing a white bandage on her head, told reporters after the clash.
The Sacramento Fire Department said 10 patients were treated at area hospitals for multiple stabbing and laceration wounds.
None of the injuries were life-threatening and there were no immediate reports of arrests, Granada said. The building was placed on lockdown.
Matthew Heimbach, chairman of Traditionalist Worker Party, said his group had expected violence even though it planned a peaceful rally and had a permit.
“We were there to support nationalism. We are white nationalists,” Heimbach told Reuters. “We were there to take a stand.”
Representatives of the Sacramento police could not be reached immediately for further comment.