Crime - Sacto 911

Elected officials and community leaders: Violence doesn’t reflect Sacramento

Sacramento community leaders and elected officials gathered under the hot sun on the Capitol steps Thursday to denounce the violence that occurred during a white supremacist rally and counter-protest on Sunday.

Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, said he called the group together because the national coverage of the violence on Capitol grounds that left 10 injured on Sunday and the anti-LGBT rhetoric earlier in the month from a Natomas pastor gave the wrong image of Sacramento. Very few members of the public attended Thursday’s event, and Sasso said it wasn’t widely publicized.

Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg told the small crowd that people who believe violence is the proper response to hate speech don’t represent Sacramentans.

“We can’t control what goes viral and what makes news,” Steinberg told the small crowd. “But we can use our collective voices to say, loud and clear, that what happened here at this Capitol on Sunday is the exact opposite of what Sacramento is all about.”

The Traditionalist Worker Party and Golden State Skinhead rally at the Capitol on Sunday was marred by violence between the two white supremacist groups and more than 350 protesters who turned out to “shut down” the rally. By the time the clashes ended, five people had been stabbed and five more injured, leaving questions about the role of the more than 100 law enforcement officers who were on hand to keep the peace.

Steinberg was joined on stage by Councilman Eric Guerra, state Sen. Richard Pan and representatives from 12 community organizations, including the NAACP, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center and La Familia.

Sasso said before the event he thinks it’s unfortunate that national media coverage of the violence portrayed it as “Sacramento-centric.”

“We’re, you know, the state capital,” Sasso said. “And sometimes, you know, people from outside the area come in and things like (the violence) do happen. It’s not a reflection of the residents of Sacramento.”

James Lee Clark, an activist who was also at Sunday’s rally, stopped by to watch the speakers and said out-of-town protesters, not local activists, engaged in violence Sunday.

“I wish we would have had a peaceful resolution,” he said. “It would have been much better for the community and it wouldn’t have given the platform it has given for (the white supremacists’) hate speech.”

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

Related stories from Sacramento Bee