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Sunday’s violence at the California Capitol: An insider view from the beginning

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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A trail of blood was spattered across the sidewalk near the southeast corner of California’s statehouse Sunday morning, after a small group of white segregationists clashed with a massive crowd of counter-protesters.

The group that sparked the confrontation was the Traditional Workers Party, a white-separatists organization with social media support from the Golden State Skinheads. The TWP had been issued a permit by the California Highway Patrol to hold a rally at the capitol between noon and 2 p.m. Sunday.

A Gold Country Media reporter arrived at the southeast corner of the capitol at 11:55 a.m. to a scene of people screaming as paramedics stood over several wounded men. SWAT members were blocking off a large pool of blood on the sidewalk. At that point, multiple witnesses said at least three people had been “stabbed by Nazis,” and that two of the victims were African Americans who’d been knifed in the chests.

“Those Nazis just rushed over stabbed a couple of young men and then ran away,” said witness Andrea Combs. “We didn’t see any cops chasing them, either.”

The Sacramento Fire Department later confirmed to media that six individuals were transported to area hospitals, many with stab wounds. Police had not reported any arrests by late afternoon. The next morning the Sacramento Police Department acknowledged that a citizen had helped its officers locate a loaded handgun during the chaos of the rally. 

At 12:10, an angry, swelling crowd on the capitol’s southeast lawn spotted several men on the marble steps whom they believed to the white supremacists. The crowd surged forward, yelling and throwing items at the men. Sacramento police in riot gear and highway patrol officers on horseback attempted to intervene. Some members of the anti-protest crowd tried to rush the steps anyway, sparking an ear-splitting moment of chaos as officers fired TASERS and a volley of pepper balls. One anti-supremacy protester fell onto the ground in the fetal position as the mounted officers tried to keep their spooked horses from dancing over the downed body. In the same instant, police officers appeared to pull a few of the white supremacists into the capitol to get them out of reach of the crowd.

Sacramento officers have yet to confirm if they in fact pulled members of the TWP into the capitol.

An enraged group of people was soon circling to the capitol, trying to figure out if authorities were hiding the white power group. Witnesses to the initial outbreak of violence began shouting that the “Nazis” had come to the rally with knives, mace and shields. Some anti-fascist protestors wore black, paramilitary outfits themselves, and a few engaged in loud debates with other antifascist protestors about the violent nature of some of the signs – such as “The only good fascist is a dead one” — as well as the overall aggression building in the crowd.

Police fired a round of tear gas on the northeast steps of the capitol just as a group of protestors began burning a Confederate flag in the direction of the Capitol Mall.

At 1 p.m., with the white power group still out of sight, a woman talking to the crowd on a bull horn declared, “We just beat their a** today!” This incited an explosion of cheering.

Around 1:45 p.m., two men whom some members of the crowd believed were connected with the Traditional Workers Party were confronted near the west lawn of the capitol. When a few members of the crowd stood toe-to-toe with them, and items began to be thrown, police officers pulled the two men back across 10th Street for their own protection.

Sacramento News & Review reported earlier this week that the Traditional Workers Party was founded by Matthew Heimbach, who has already made national news headlines by pushing an African American woman to the ground at a Donald Trump rally.

Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at standerson1@live.com. Follow him on Twitter at STA_reporter or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/STAndersonJournalist