“No hate, no fear! Sessions is not welcome here!” and “What do we want? Sessions out!” rang through the streets of Sacramento on Wednesday, March 6 in response to a surprise visit by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While Sessions was inside the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel announcing his intent to sue the state of California for providing sanctuary from another wave of ICE raids, people came out into the streets at 7:30 a.m. and marched to demand full rights for all immigrants and an end to racist ICE and police terror.
The demonstration began with chanting at the corner of J & 5th streets in downtown Sacramento. Students, workers, immigrants, refugees, and other members of the community made up the crowd of a few hundred that came out to oppose the visit of Jeff Sessions. Announced the day before, mobilization to oppose the visit began immediately amongst various community groups including the Decolonization Project, NorCal Resist, RefuseFascism and the ANSWER Coalition. Not long after the chants started, the crowd spilled into the streets, taking the intersection at J & 5th. After rallying for a short time there was a march eventually directed by a contingent led by CHIRLA & SEIU 1000. The latter groups began a press conference between the Golden1 Arena and the Sawyer Hotel that included a DACA and TPS recipient in between speeches from prominent Democratic Party politicians. After the press conference, the crowd, many not happy with the soft messaging of the Democrats, marched back into the streets and to the front of the hotel itself.
Chants of “Sessions out!” and “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!” echoed off the walls of the hotel and could be heard for blocks around the downtown area. After this, speeches were heard from community members eager to voice their opposition to Sessions as well as the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department responsible for carrying out his policies locally:
“I marched in Alabama with Dr. King. When we marched through the streets of Montgomery Alabama we were standing up for justice; to get rid of the imperialistic racism that exists even today. I am an immigrant. I am an immigrant from the racist south that hasn’t changed that much. We have to let our voices be heard. Stand up, fight back!’
Apparent cooperation between rightwing agitators and the local police seemed apparent in Sacramento once again as the action came to a close. Toward the end of the demonstration as everyone was leaving, three racist opportunist YouTubers showed up and spewed their ignorant hateful views, even using outright racial slurs against a local Black activist, Berry Accius. As quickly as he and others were angered by this blatantly racist comment, he was surrounded by numerous police officers “for his own safety.” Despite being the target of hate speech, it was he who was treated as a threat and not the white supremacist who was free to leave and quickly did so.
Later, when a known white supremacist agitator wrapped in a Blue Lives Matter flag stormed two people trying to leave the march, instead of protecting the individuals being accosted, the police charged with their horse and stepped on the toe of Jeronimo Cuauhtemoc Aguilar, a member of the Sacramento Party for Socialism and Liberation and student at Sacramento State University. He recounted:
“The people of Sacramento were out bright and early to make sure Jeff Sessions knew that he was not welcome in our community. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend most of the protest and rally/march. By the time I arrived there was no one left but the PSL and a handful of right wing agitators filming, harassing, and hurling racial slurs at our Black comrades. With the police in heavy presence on foot as well as on horse; our PSL contingency decided it was time to leave and walk away from the bigotry. As I am walking away I make sure to stay on the sidewalk as instructed by the police themselves. Next thing I know I am attempting to get my foot from under this police horse’s hoof. When I finally freed my foot I lashed out at the officer, ‘Why the hell is your horse on the sidewalk?! We we’re walking away!’
“The officer did not pull his horse back –did not apologize to me; he just looked at me blank faced as if he enjoyed the whole ordeal. I was in pretty serious pain as this horse applied his full weight on the tip of my big toe. I was more furious than anything, because the whole time I was there the cops were intensely focusing on us while ignoring the racist goons waving Blue Lives Matter & Trump flags; allowing them to literally follow us with their camera phones and invade our personal space.
“My toe was bloody and a comrade took me to the urgent care facility at Sacramento State which is free for students. I narrowly avoided a broken toe as initial X-rays showed no fractures – but the soft cartilage at the end of my toe was effectively crushed.
“This experience demonstrates the careless, unprofessional, and brutal behavior of the Sacramento Police Department. Clearly showing bias to the right wing trolls, my injury was induced by power wielding arms of the state hell bent on trying to intimidate us. I am not intimidated –far from it; I have no problem standing up for my rights as a human being as well as the rights of others. I also have no problem calling out these fascist puppets of the state when they trample on me in a physical, social, and political sense.”
These actions by SPD come at a time when the District Attorney is pursuing charges against three anti-fascist demonstrators for defending people against knife and gun wielding white supremacists at the State Capitol in 2016. Despite the police report showing the identities of the white supremacists present as well as still photographs of these individuals with knives before, during and after the stabbings, no charges have been brought against them. Court support is ongoing with the community calling for the DA to drop all charges against the anti-fascists.
As it concluded, March 6 was a victory for the people whose goal it was to demonstrate their opposition to the racist policies of Jeff Sessions and the rest of the Trump administration.
The people marched united with a clear message to the city of Sacramento and to Jeff Sessions that we reject the ongoing war against the working class in the form of more aggressive police terror tactics, the expansion of mass incarceration, and the racist deportation machine. We stand with all oppressed peoples and immigrants in their fight for equality as they resist these attacks. Only the people in the streets can counter the racist mobilization in support of more deportations. We stand in full solidarity with people taking the streets to demand justice and equality for ALL!