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'Your rage is real,' Gavin Newsom tells California protesters

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 6/2/2020 By Hannah Wiley, The Sacramento Bee

Addressing demonstrators from a Meadowview church in Sacramento Monday after a weekend of protests, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was committed to dismantling the “institutional racism” that’s driven activists to California streets.

“For those of you out there protesting, I want you to know that you matter,” Newsom said. “To those who want to express themselves... God bless you. Keep doing it. Your rage is real.”

The governor also said he was prepared at the request of local leaders and law enforcement to send in 4,500 National Guard troops to dispel the kind of looting that cities up and down the state, from Sacramento to Oakland to Los Angeles, have experienced in recent days. He said another 7,000 members of the California Highway Patrol are on full tactical alert to help local authorities cope with vandalism and looting.

He said local authorities will determine whether to impose curfews based on conditions in their communities.

“For those who want to exploit this moment, who want to flame the violence and fear, we hear you as well. But we don’t have the same sensitivities as it relates to those who are trying to exercise their voice from a place of hurt and pain,” Newsom said. “The looting, the violence, the threats against fellow human beings, that has no place in this state and in this nation.”

The demonstrations, orchestrated by local leaders and national groups like Black Lives Matter, have popped up across the United States since May 25, when a black man named George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for several minutes during an arrest.

America is experiencing a “double pandemic,” said Tecoy Porter, pastor of Genesis Church in South Sacramento. The first, he said, is the coronavirus called COVID-19 that has killed more than 100,000 Americans in just a few months.

“Then we have this other virus that’s going on that we’ve seen in Minneapolis with George Floyd,” he said. “And that virus is racism.”

While most have organized peacefully to spread their message, smaller groups have turned to violence and destruction, smashing windows, looting businesses and sowing discord.

The disorder has led to increased clashes with police, who have at times have used tear gas and rubber bullets to dispel the crowds.

The violence has also forced local leaders to issue curfews and restrictions against the organizing in efforts to end the chaos. After two nights of riots throughout midtown and downtown Sacramento, where small businesses were hard hit by the anarchy, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said a curfew would be instituted Monday night.

“We are going to try to shut it down tonight even before it gets dark,” Steinberg said, referencing the violence Saturday and Sunday that kicked up after dark.

President Donald Trump called on governors in a Monday telephone call to make arrests and “dominate” the groups of looters who have used the protests as an opportunity to sow division.

Newsom and Trump have long railed against each other on social media and during public appearances. But since the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic governor has largely declined to criticize the president. He didn’t respond Monday to questions about the president’s recommended approach to the civil unrest.

“I can choose to focus a message that I think is so much more powerful, and I hope more resonant to the people watching,” Newsom said, “and that is I care more about them than some of the noise I heard on a morning phone call.”

“People have lost patience because they haven’t seen progress,” he added. “People have lost patience for a reason.”

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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