A homeless man was arrested for allegedly assaulting California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom on a sidewalk in downtown Oakland earlier this week.
California Highway Patrol (CHP), which provides security for Newsom, identified the man as Serge Emanuel Benoit Chaumette Jr., 54, from Berkeley. He was booked for assault on a public official and resisting an officer and held at the Santa Rita Jail. His bail was set at $35,000. A woman claiming to be Chaumette’s sister told The Associated Press he is homeless and mentally ill, and the accusation was “consistent with his past behavior.” The jail’s booking log, however, reportedly listed Chaumette’s occupation as “pumping gas.”
The incident occurred at 10:46 a.m. on Thursday while the governor visited the area to promote support for small businesses impacted by the pandemic and the state’s reopening. Newsom did not appear to have been injured or disturbed by the confrontation.
“The Governor was approached by an aggressive individual,” a CHP statement said. “Members of the Governor’s security detail removed the Governor from the situation and the individual was arrested by CHP officers.”
The East Bay Times reported, “A group of TV news journalists and newspaper reporters nearby heard the commotion” but “only saw the governor’s CHP security detail detaining the man.”
Some published accounts said Chaumette allegedly threw a water bottle at Newsom, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, CHP officer Custodio Lopez did not confirm that information.
The Chronicle reported, “Newsom shrugged off the encounter with reporters afterward, saying it was ‘just a gentleman who wanted to say hello. And we all have our different ways of expressing ourselves. And he certainly made an impact. It’s the nature of life.’”
Chaumette has an arraignment hearing set for Monday.
Newsom went on to make appearances at the Beastmode Barbershop, then two doors down at Graffiti Pizza, where news photographers captured images of the governor spinning dough and eating a slice.
The governor has been trying to rebuild his image and raise funds to defend himself against a special recall election expected this fall. Newsom has raised nearly $16.5 million, about twice as much as all of his Republican challengers combined. Netflix co-CEO and chairman Reed Hastings has donated more than $3 million in support of Newsom.
The Chronicle reported:
The governor has been boosted by a cash infusion from mega donors, including labor unions, the Democratic Party, big tech billionaires, tribal communities and real-estate developers — a broad coalition that melds both traditional progressive donors and business interests.
Several factors have helped boost Newsom’s advantage: For starters, he can raise unlimited funds to fight a recall; state contribution limits don’t apply to recalled officeholders. Donors to his Republican challengers, on the other hand, are limited to the normal $32,400 maximum per campaign.
Newsom has also benefited as California emerges from the coronavirus pandemic with a booming economy and an unexpected $75.7 billion budget surplus. His campaign released its first television ad Thursday, declaring the state is “roaring back” and highlighting a plan to send many households $1,100 tax rebates.
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