Capitol Alert

White supremacist ‘cancer’ in California to be investigated, Senate leader says

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, during debate on the key climate change legislation on July 17 2017.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, during debate on the key climate change legislation on July 17 2017. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The California Senate will hold a series of public hearings next month to explore the rise of white supremacy in California and to ensure that the state is prepared to deal with race-driven rallies in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

“These issues cut to the heart of our society and our response will show what kind of nation we want to be,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León while announcing the hearings on the Senate floor on Monday.

“We don’t want it to repeat itself again in our great state of California.”

De León asked the chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and the Senate Public Safety Committee to convene the hearings. He said the committees will ask the state’s public universities and the California Highway Patrol to testify about how the agencies are prepared to deal with these types of events. White supremacists intend to rally in San Francisco on Saturday. California officials have requested that the National Park Service rescind a previously issued permit for the event.

De León also called for Senate hearings to investigate the rise of white supremacist organizations and their techniques in California.

“I know we all felt the pain,” de León said. “It was an attack on America and our values, the promise that we strive to achieve and the ideology that fueled that attack is a cancer on our nation.”

De León, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, did not mention the president in his speech on the Senate floor on Monday. After announcing the hearings, he adjourned in memory of Heather Heyer, who died when a man drove his car into counterprotesters in Charlottesville, and the two Virginia State Police troopers who were killed in a helicopter crash on the way to the rally.

De León and other state legislators have said more racist comments and mail have been directed at them since the November presidential election. He previously blamed Trump for not speaking out against groups that now feel more emboldened to share their racist beliefs publicly.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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