Pro-Palestine protests in California changed Governor Newsom's schedule. The Democrat was expected to participate in the traditional Christmas lighting ceremony, but fear of violent protests made his cabinet change their mind and opt for a pre-recorded speech.
Like every year, Newsom was expected to give his speech during the California Capitol Christmas lighting ceremony. The event was planned for Tuesday. However, the governor's cabinet decided to replace Newsom's appearance with a video message that was broadcast on Wednesday, as if these were times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) December 7, 2023
The Governor's Office assumed and acknowledged that the protests were what motivated the change. "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," reads a statement.
According to The Los Angeles Times, although the statement did not specify which demonstration was considered dangerous, the time and place of the lighting coincided with protests called by pro-Palestinian organizations to gather in condemnation of Israel and in support of Hamas.
The event, organized by the Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights, called in to demonstrate against the Christmas lighting ceremony. "Do not celebrate while remaining silent about genocide." The call is the first of a series of demonstrations that will take to the streets through Dec. 13.
What Newsom avoided is a phenomenon that has been seen across several large cities in the country throughout early December. In New York, a key city for pro-Palestine activists, protesters clashed with law enforcement and disrupted a Christmas tree lighting event .
"Governor Newsom decided to cancel the tree lighting ceremony rather than face the public that is enraged by his shameful silence on the genocide in Gaza. This certainly doesn't add up with his past stance with Native Americans," said Yassar Dahbour, a member of the association organizing the protest, in statements to Fox .