Clash at California capitol leaves at least 10 injured
SAN FRANCISCO – ReutersAt least 10 people were injured at a rally outside the California state capitol in Sacramento on June 26 as members of a white supremacist group clashed with counter-protesters, authorities said.
The melee erupted during a rally staged by the Traditionalist Worker Party, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist extremist group.
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.
When the white supremacists arrived at the capitol building at about noon on June 26, “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 was 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.”
Video footage on social media showed dozens of people, some of them wearing masks and wielding what appeared to be wooden bats, racing across the capitol grounds and attacking others.
Photos on social media showed emergency officials treating a victim on the grass in the area as police officers stood guard.