A “Turn California Red” rally aimed at promoting conservative issues and candidates ahead of Tuesday’s election brought counter-protesters to the state Capitol Sunday afternoon.
Speakers at the rally reiterated the benefits of conservative efforts for Californians — Proposition 6, which would repeal the gas tax, and cracking down on illegal immigration, for example — as attendees donning “Make America Great Again” hats and waving American flags watched from the Capitol steps.
While the location of the event recalled the violent neo-Nazi demonstration that occurred in front of the Capitol in 2016 and left 10 injured, the rally remained largely peaceful. No injuries were reported and just one individual, a “Turn California Red” supporter, was arrested by the Sacramento Police Department.
Chris Ross, the organizer of the rally and a resident of Antioch, said the demonstration was meant to energize conservatives and push back against California’s reputation as a blue state.
“We are at a time when thousands of Democrats are walking away from the party,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of independents who are moving towards conservative values and those are the people we want to reach out to and change minds.”
Many attendees traveled from across the region and state to see the rally.
Jacqui Finley of Placerville said she hoped the rally would usher in a “red tsunami” this Tuesday. Angela James of Modesto, who attended the rally with her children, said she wanted her family to experience a conservative political event first-hand, without having to get information through mainstream media sources.
“It’s important to expose them to politics,” James said. “They don’t get it in school.”
Organizers for the rally obtained a California Highway Patrol permit for up to 500 people. Far fewer attended the event, which was bordered with a metal fence, though CHP officials could not confirm a number, according to department spokesman John Ortega.
Counter-protesters, some of whom dubbed themselves as “anti-Nazi,” held signs and chanted throughout the rally, denouncing attendees.
“Go home, Nazis,” the crowd chanted. “Please notice the lack of Nazis on our side,” read one counter-protester’s sign.
Though most attendees described themselves as conservative or Trump supporters only, several far-right activists appeared, including Kyle Chapman, who gained notoriety in the Bay Area for his violent clashes with Antifa members last year.
Standing across the street from the Capitol beside counter-protesters, Sacramento resident Sean Christian said it was important to take stock of events that he said run contrary to the community’s values.
“Sacramento is a diverse city,” he said. “I believe that this is now a very safe area for the LGBTQ community so inside of that if they’re going to have the rally like this I’m going to come down and see what they’re trying to say in my yard.”
At around 1:50 p.m., a man was detained by the Sacramento Police Department for allegedly threatening to fight someone. Sacramento Police Department captain Norm Leone identified the man as 37-year-old Courtney Carthen.
The intersection of 10th and Capitol streets was opened and closed several times by law enforcement officers, whose presence was heavy throughout the duration of the event. The rally concluded at about 3:15 p.m. and the area was clear of rally attendees and counter-protesters by about 4:10 p.m.