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Governor Gavin Newsom was assaulted by a 54-year-old man while in Oakland on Thursday, one of the first physical confrontations against the Governor during his term.
According to law enforcement sources, Newsom was traveling with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and members of the press on Thursday, walking throughout Old Oakland and visiting small businesses. At around 10:45 in the morning, while en route to Grafitti Pizza on Washington Street, 54-year-old Berkeley resident Serge Emanuel Benoit Chaumette Jr. suddenly confronted Newsom. For an unknown reason, Chaumette went after the Governor, culminating in him throwing a water bottle at the Governor.
Members of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), who were assigned to guard the Governor, quickly apprehended Chaumette. Members of the press with the Governor failed to notice the incident until Chaumette was seen being arrested by the CHP.
“This morning, the Governor was approached by an aggressive individual,” said the CHP in a statement on Thursday. “Members of the Governor’s security detail removed the Governor from the situation and the individual was arrested by CHP officers.”
Newsom was not rushed away from the area and even made light of the incident when questioned by the press in the immediate aftermath.
“Different people have different ways of saying hello,” quipped Newsom after the attack.
Later on Thursday, Chaumette was booked in Santa Rita Jail on charges of resisting an officer and assaulting a public official with bail being set at $35,000. Newsom continued his small business walk in Oakland, pressing forward on his review of reopened Californian businesses.
‘Just because you turn off the stove it doesn’t mean the water stops being hot’
Many experts noted that while the incident is minor, it did demonstrate the anger against Newsom stemming from the COVID-19 lockdowns and Newsom’s refusal to allow businesses to fully reopen earlier this year, despite many other states with comparable COVID-19 rates adopting much more lenient policies.
“We don’t know fully why he did what he did yesterday, but it does show you the anger that is there,” explained Hector Reyes, a Los Angeles accountant who specializes in small businesses who had to oversee several businesses closing for good last year, to the Globe on Friday. “Between me and others who helped businesses I know of, we rarely heard of COVID-19 being blamed for their businesses closing, or at least solely. It wasn’t every case, but the most cited reason was Newsom and his policies not allowing them to reopen in time.”
“Everyone has different reactions to it happening, but many felt anger, and there is no real outlet to let this all out. More than one of my clients, after signing the paperwork that dissolved their business, went out into the parking lot and cursed up a storm, invoking Newsom’s name.”
“I cannot speak from a position on knowing how these attacks happen or anything, but what I can tell you, from the perspective of someone who has seen the direct effects of businesses shutting down, that Newsom created a large group of former businesses owners that turned furious towards him, and there’s a lot of anger there. Especially from Latino small business owners.”
“So Newsom, or other officials who were part of the lockdown, getting stuff thrown at him or being assaulted by angry people? I’m surprised we didn’t see more of this sooner. Like my lita used to say, just because you turn off the stove it doesn’t mean the water stops being hot.”
Chaumette is set to be arraigned at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin on Monday.
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