Nearly two weeks after five people were stabbed in a brawl between white supremacists and radical counter-protesters at the California State Capitol, questions remain about why no one has been arrested.
California Highway Patrol Capt. Josh Ehlers told Capital Public Radio on Wednesday his agency had 57 personnel assigned to the Capitol on June 26, in advance of a permitted rally organized by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party. That included personnel in the CHP's communications center at the Capitol, he said.
The group of about 30 white supremacists clashed with more than 350 radical counter-protesters, who police say showed up in multiple groups and physically attacked the supremacists from all directions before their planned demonstration started.
Ehlers of the CHP said his officers acted appropriately by balancing their safety with their duty to keep the peace.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean we send a given officer or two into a much larger group with a mob mentality that has weapons or potentially has weapons," Ehlers said. "We don’t want our officers to get hurt. We want them to be effective. We want them to be able to rescue somebody or provide medical aid.”
The CHP captain said his agency did not expect multiple groups of counter protesters to come from all directions to attack the supremacists. He said his agency is evaluating how to head off future tactics and violence.
“That’s a pretty unique situation," Ehlers said. "We haven’t seen it before. That changed the dynamics. And that’s one of the things we’re obviously evaluating moving forward and looking at how we’re going to combat some of the fluidity and the violence that was seen on video.”
Sacramento Police Officer Matt McPhail said his agency had more than 100 officers assigned to the surrounding area. They, too, had to balance their own safety with intervening, the officer said.
McPhail added that Sacramento police are continuing to investigate three assaults that took place on surrounding streets. He said authorities have unfairly been criticized for not stepping in.
“That’s simply not the case. On multiple occasions, our officers did intervene into a variety of assaults or altercations," McPhail said.
He added: “The public should feel reassured that just because an arrest has not yet been made, that that does not mean that these criminal acts will go unpunished and that an arrest won’t be made at a later time.”