Role of extremist groups at California lockdown protests raises alarms

California

On Saturday afternoon, Pastor John DeBow watched with pride as his daughter defied social distancing edicts at the state Capitol by giving free haircuts to some of the people from across California who gathered again to protest remaining restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

A crowd of roughly 2,000 gathered on May 23, 2020 for “Liberty Fest,” hosted by the Freedom Angels, outside the closed California Capitol in Sacramento. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A crowd of roughly 2,000 gathered on May 23, 2020 for “Liberty Fest,” hosted by the Freedom Angels, outside the closed California Capitol in Sacramento. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

He was unaware that a few yards away, a contingent of Proud Boys, an alt-right organization, had set up a tent attached to the stage. Some members were walking through the crowd in camouflage tactical vests and their trademark black-and-yellow Fred Perry polo shirts.

But the Napa religious leader, who has taken to online preaching and plans to continue to honor the state’s ban on in-person church services, said he was unbothered by their presence, though they have been deemed an extremist group.

“You are always going to have some radical people in any group whatsoever,” DeBow said. “But because you have a few crazies, you don’t have to get rid of the whole barrel of apples.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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