SACRAMENTO – After his home was vandalized last weekend, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg had to remind the community that it may or may not agree with his position governing the city, but his domain and family should never be the target of aggression.
“This was not protest. This was anarchy. You want to challenge me, challenge me at City Hall. Challenge me at the ballot box,” Steinberg stated after the crime unleashed on his property.
The Sacramento Police Department reported that more than 80 officers monitored a planned demonstration of approximately 50 people that started at Frank Seymour Park in South Sacramento in the late evening hours of Feb. 6.
Many demonstrators were dressed in all black, wearing helmets and armor. Some were carrying shields. The demonstrators eventually marched to the Mayor of Sacramento’s private residence. Eventually, these same demonstrators began to vandalize the residence by throwing rocks, stealing security cameras, and destroying lighting fixtures, SPD said in a written statement.
The police said that the demonstrators barricaded the front door and gate to Steinbergs’ residence with landscaping debris that was removed from the yard. The cost of the damage caused by demonstrators is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.
“The Sacramento Police Department unequivocally supports the expression of everyone’s First Amendment rights. However, what happened at the Mayor’s residence was not an expression of First Amendment rights. It was a group of people dedicated to the destruction of a local leader’s property,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn. “The Sacramento Police Department will continue to investigate incidents such as these and identify those involved. We are committed to the safety of everyone in our community.”
There were no other reports of vandalism to any other residences. Detectives are conducting following up investigations to identify those that were involved in any criminal activity associated with this demonstration, SPD stated.
Since Steinberg has been in office, he has made efforts to address the homeless population’s plight, however, he and the members of the City Council have not had much success.
Many groups, many say with good reasons, are holding Steinberg responsible for not acting fast to protect the unhoused and provide them with necessities in order for them to survive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on the city as well as the unhoused, local activist Faye Kennedy said.
“We’re calling on our city-county leaders not to pit the housed against the unhoused. But to treat all of us with dignity and respect. We are asking for a comprehensive plan for affordable housing,” Ms. Kennedy, a member of the Poor People’s Campaign of Sacramento, said at a rally and march on Stockton Boulevard.
Ms. Kennedy expressed concern that the vandals put a “Services Not Sweeps” sign on the Mayor’s yard.
“The Services Not Sweeps Coalition [SNSC] — made of more than 100 individuals and organizations, including the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, Loaves and Fishes and the Poor Peoples Campaign — was horrified to see a replica of our banner draped over the front yard at the Mayor’s house at the recent violent demonstration,” SNSC officials wrote in a statement.
“The SNSC condemns the demonstration at the Mayor’s house, not only for its violence and vandalism, but also for hiding behind SNSC — making it appear that we were either behind, or somehow involved, in this action. WE WERE NOT!”
One group requested that Steinberg step down as mayor after two unhoused people died during a heavy wind storm last month.
“Steinberg has failed to meet the 72-hour deadline announced by the Sacramento Homeless Union (SHU) on Sunday, January 31, to either resign his office or face a Union-led recall campaign,” Crystal Sanchez of the SHU said in a written statement.
“Accordingly, the Union — and all those concerned with the preventable death, injury, failure to open warming shelters and widespread destruction suffered by the unhoused in last week’s storms — will begin the process of recalling Mr. Steinberg,” Ms. Sanchez stated.
In addition, SHU, with the California Homeless Union (CHU), sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, voicing its opposition to Newsom’s possible selection of Steinberg for the state’s vacant Attorney General position.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer