SACRAMENTO(CBS13) — Attacks on the U.S. Capitol are sparking conversations about our own protections in Downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn says officers have been dealing with violent demonstrations on a weekly basis at Cesar Chavez Park.
“It is already out of control,” Hahn said.
He says the already out-of-control situation is forcing the Sacramento Police Department to add resources downtown where demonstrations happen every weekend, many turning violent.
Chief Hahn called out some of the demonstrations, saying many aren’t protesters but people from radical groups who are there to cause violence. He says at times people show up in helmets and bulletproof vests, adding that officers have even been attacked.
“These groups over the last several months, that’s not what they are here for. They are literally stalking each other around our streets and so our officers literally have to run from block to block to get in between them,” Chief Hahn explained.
The downtown protests are happening all while the country prepares for potential violence at all state capitols. Just this week, the FBI issued a warning about possible armed protests ahead of the inauguration.
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Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he plans to hold a public forum, opening the floor to the community to talk about the demonstrations and how each group is handled with police.
“They are literally acting as human shields and barriers between two different groups to try to prevent an even greater outbreak of violence,” Mayor Steinberg said regarding officers policing protests.
Meantime, Chief Hahn says each demonstration presents its own level of policing and says the demonstrations that have been occurring over the past several months have presented levels of violence that require at times more than 100 officers.
Ahead of next week and due to ongoing weekend protests downtown, Chief Hahn says he will be looking at what takes place within the city these next few days and make revisions as needed.
“We have a big challenge ahead for next week with what happened last week and what some people are calling for the inauguration, they are not just in D.C. but all over our country. It is very much a potential here and we are doing everything we can to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Chief Hahn says he doesn’t believe the violence will get to an extreme at any point like took place at the U.S. Capitol because of California Highway Patrol’s protection of Capitol grounds.
Mayor Steinberg plans to have the public forum as early as next week.
Below is a statement from CHP:
“CHP Officers are always vigilant for potential threats that may occur at the State Capitol. We have personnel ready to respond to protect state property and ensure public safety as necessary. Beyond that, the CHP does not comment on matters involving security. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) always endeavors to protect the rights of every individual or group to lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights. Any response to a demonstration which has been determined to be illegal, such as an unlawful assembly or riot, would be treated equally in all situations. Responses to such, up to and including any arrests, are made solely based upon violations of the law and probable cause, and at no time based on race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs, etc.”