Gov. Newsom: Thousands with National Guard, CHP mobilized to keep peace during protests

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
WATCH LIVE: Gov. Newsom gets emotional, talks racism and COVID-19
The governor said he was struggling to explain the tragedy to his children, who saw the viral video of Floyd's death on social media.

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a weekend of unrest in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has mobilized thousands of National Guard troops and CHP officers to help local jurisdictions maintain order.

The governor said 3,400 National Guard members were called up over the weekend and another 1,100 on Monday. The 4,500 National Guard troops are helping to keep peace and secure locations in cities that have been hardest hit by violence and looting connected to protests over the death of George Floyd.

They are available statewide, but Newsom said the resources are more concentrated in Southern California.

In many cases, local officials have noted that the people protesting and those committing crimes and violent acts are not the same individuals, but the criminals are using the large crowds of the protests to help facilitate their actions.

In Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the National Guard troops were brought in to help keep locations secure after police had already cleared them. That freed up local officers to take the lead responsibility for making arrests and keeping peace. Guard troops were also brought in to help secure vulnerable targets such as Los Angeles City Hall.

RELATED: Over 400 arrested over vandals wreak havoc in Santa Monica

Newsom said there are about 7,000 CHP personnel working 12-hour shifts on tactical alert who are available to help out as well. In Los Angeles, CHP resources were used to help close down freeways in locations like Santa Monica where violence and looting had broken out.

Some of the protests have resulted in coronavirus testing sites being closed down. But Newsom said there are still thousands of tests being conducted. On Sunday alone, there were some 67,000 tests conducted across the state, he said.

The protests are a reaction to the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer was seen placing a knee on his neck for an extended time. Video of the incident has triggered protests against police brutality and racial inequality across the country.

RELATED: Autopsy commissioned by family finds George Floyd died by asphyxiation due to neck and back compression

Additionally, Newsom addressed the substance of the motivation for more of the protests, saying he had deep sympathy for the cause.

He said society has a collective responsibility to address the issue.

"The black community is not responsible for what's happening in this country right now -- we are," Newsom said. "Our institutions are responsible. We are accountable to this moment. Let's just call that out."

Newsom also spoke passionately about the need for action to advance anti-racist causes, but didn't offer any specific changes the state would be making to do so.

"So often we try to meet the moment with rhetoric. We feign resolve, we make a point to assert a new paradigm. And yet, over and over and over and over again we don't meet that next moment," Newsom said from a church in south Sacramento.

"We have to own up to some very difficult things. The black community is not responsible for what's happening in this country right now, we are. We are, our institutions over and over again, we are responsible we are accountable to this moment."

He acknowledged that as governor and in past elected positions, he hasn't done enough to advance the fight against racism.

"People have lost patience because they haven't seen progress.

"Heck, I've quoted Dr. King ad nauseum," Newsom said. "For those of you out there protesting, I want you to know you matter. ... I have a unique responsibility to prove that to you. You've lost patience and so have I."

Despite his 20-minute emotional speech, the governor didn't end by offering up any specific policy solutions.

Many jurisdictions in Southern California have declared curfews to try to prevent the crowds and disturbances.

Newsom said he is not considering a statewide curfew, noting that the situations are different in various parts of the state.

"We believe the conditions are very different in Del Norte versus other parts of the state... places like San Diego are different than even here in the Bay Area."

Newsom's comments come after days of protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, as well as generations of racism against black Americans. In Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and other cities, some demonstrations ended in violent clashes with officers.

Looting, vandalism and curfew violations have led to hundreds of arrests in Southern California alone.