Threat against Bernie Sanders campaign rally ends in arrest, California cops say

Police in Southern California said a man was arrested Monday after threats of violence that apparently targeted a Bernie Sanders presidential campaign rally scheduled for Tuesday, local news outlets reported.

A concerned local tipped off the Long Beach Police Department to the online threat Sunday, police said in a news release. Police investigated and arrested Jose Rafael Guzman, a 27-year-old Huntington Park man, the next day on charges of criminal threats and threatening a public officer, the news release said.

“We take all potential threats of violence very seriously and thoroughly investigate all reported incidents,” Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said in a statement. “Our department will remain vigilant and continue to be visible to ensure the safety of our community.”

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported that the threat was against the Sanders rally, though police didn’t specify the event targeted in their news release on Guzman’s arrest. CBS reported that police wouldn’t say if the threat was against Sanders himself but did confirm that the threat was against “a political rally.”

Guzman was booked at the Long Beach City Jail but has since been released on $50,000 bail, according to police.

The tip that led to Guzman’s arrest came just before Sanders’ 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign started a swing through Southern California on Monday. Sanders appearances in the state include the Long Beach rally scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Long Beach City College, according to the Vermont Independent senator’s campaign.

Police said “making any kind of threat, whether in person or online, is illegal and has serious consequences,” and added that the department “has scheduled extra patrols and will place all available resources in high visibility areas to ensure our community feels safe at all times.”

A Sanders spokesperson said the rally will go on as scheduled, according to the Press-Telegram, and Long Beach police spokeswoman Shaunna Dandoy said “all event attendees will be able to enjoy a safe and secure event with visible presence from LBPD.”

Police declined to elaborate on the threat that Guzman, a mechanic, allegedly made against the event, according to the Long Beach Post. Guzman could not be reached for comment, the Post reported.

Sanders is appearing at town halls and other events in San Diego, Vista, Northridge and Los Angeles before his trip through Southern California brings him to the Long Beach rally, according to a schedule released by his campaign.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.