Capitol Alert

Conservative and ‘Antifa’ forces head to California Capitol Sunday

A “Turn California Red” rally aimed at promoting conservative issues and candidates ahead of Tuesday’s election is set for Sunday at the state Capitol, potentially drawing anti-fascist counter-protesters.

Organizers for the rally have a California Highway Patrol permit for up to 500 people to attend the 1 p.m. event. As of Friday morning, 135 people said they were going and another 585 were listed as interested on the organization’s Facebook event page.

“Let’s show these Democrat politicians that we are no longer silent and their seats are no longer safe. Turn California Red!!” the description on the event page reads.

In another post, organizer Chris Ross acknowledged that the rally comes as conservative rhetoric faces scrutiny after a Florida man was arrested on suspicion of sending mail bombs to several prominent Democratic figures and also to CNN.

“In the midst of recent events some may be feeling discouraged heading into the midterms and into this rally,” Ross wrote. “We can not and will not allow the actions of one man (to) influence our passion to complete our mission. Stay the course Patriots.”

In an Oct. 18 post on the event page, Ross wrote that “all flags and signs MUST be mounted on yardsticks. No pipes, thick posts, or anything in that category.”

Sign poles have been used as weapons at some rallies at which conservative groups have clashed with counter-protestors, including one at the Capitol on June 26, 2016. Hundreds of neo-Nazis and anti-fascists brawled that day, resulting in multiple stabbings and other injuries, as well as several arrests and criminal charges.

Ross also urged people on the event page to avoid posting inflammatory rhetoric that could jeopardize the event permit.

The event could draw a counter-protest.

The Facebook page Antifa Sacramento urges anyone who is able to “show up against bigotry.”

“If you feel capable of intervening in the event of street harassment or attacks, come in a group and keep an eye out for far right activity during and after the event,” a post on the Facebook page read.

“Turn California Red” organizer Jeffrey Erik, a business owner in Sacramento, said in a Facebook message that the event is intended to be peaceful.

“We have no intentions of being aggressive to anyone from the left,” Erik said. “We invite anyone who wants information to attend.”

Erik said that the goal of the rally “is to inform, inform, inform” on the assorted candidates and propositions on Tuesday’s ballot.

In a statement Friday, CHP spokesman John Ortega said, “Our officers are always vigilant for potential threats, but we do not discuss security measures or changes in security posture.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler

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