California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) canceled what would have been the annual public Christmas tree lighting Tuesday night due to "protests across the country."
The decision came via an announcement from a spokesperson for the governor.
"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," a representative for Newsom said Tuesday afternoon. "The program is unchanged and viewers can tune in Wednesday evening to watch this year's festivities."
Newsom initially planned to host the lighting in-person, according to KCRA-TV. The holiday event was also set to include a market featuring local businesses and musical performances. But on Nov. 29, the Midtown Business Association announced its part in the event would be virtual:
"As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales, we have decided not to continue with the holiday market as planned on Tuesday, Dec. 5. We will provide updates on our holiday plans and family-friendly festivities at a future date."
While the governor's office didn't specifically state which protests triggered the decision to scrap the Christmas event, it's likely the choice was catalyzed by pro-Palestinian protests, many of which have turned violent.
The Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights announced plans to march to the California state capitol in Sacramento Tuesday night, telling KCRA-TV its intention to "out Gov. Gavin Newsom for hiding from the public because he doesn't want to face their anger at his shameful stance."
On Monday, the California Highway Patrol put up barriers around most of the capitol building's west side lawn, where the Christmas tree stands. Authorities also erected signs reading, "KEEP OUT, NO TRESPASSING," with warnings that the area is under 24-hour surveillance.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) rebuked Newsom in a post published to X Tuesday.
Gavin Newsom let a pro-Hamas mob cancel California's Christmas tree lighting.— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) December 6, 2023
Does it get more cowardly than that? https://t.co/6SGFnJDepU
"Gavin Newsom let a pro-Hamas mob cancel California's Christmas tree lighting," he wrote, sharing the KCRA-TV report. "Does it get more cowardly than that?"
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