California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom canceled the annual live public Christmas tree lighting that had been scheduled for Tuesday because of “protests across the country.”
Although Newsom’s office didn’t specify which protests had triggered the decision, the likelihood is that pro-Palestinian protests which have sometimes turned violent or disrupted the annual lightings of the giant Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan or in Michigan had catalyzed the decision, especially as the Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights had planned to march to the state Capitol Tuesday night. The pro-Palestinian group told KCRA 3 it wanted to “out Gov. Gavin Newsom for hiding from the public because he doesn’t want to face their anger at his shameful stance in regard to the genocide in Gaza.”
“As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales – and for the safety and security of all participating members and guests including children and families – the ceremony this year will be virtual,” a Newsom spokesperson had stated on Tuesday afternoon. “The program is unchanged and viewers can tune in Wednesday evening to watch this year’s festivities.”
KCRA 3 spoke with sources who said Newsom had been planning to host the event, at which a market featuring small businesses and musical performances would be present. On November 29, the Midtown Business Association posted that the event would be virtual, stating, “As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales, we have decided not to continue with the holiday market as planned on Tuesday, December 5. We will provide updates on our holiday plans and family-friendly festivities at a future date.”
On Monday, the California Highway Patrol erected barriers over much of the building’s west side lawn, where the tree stands, along with signs reading, “KEEP OUT, NO TRESPASSING” and warnings that the area was under 24-hour video surveillance.
In mid-November, pro-Palestinian demonstrators pushed past security guards and stormed into the convention center in Sacramento where the California Democratic Party was having a meeting; the party had to cancel planned caucuses. Chair Rusty Hicks said Jewish attendees “were openly intimidated and harassed.”