LOS ANGELES – As concern looms over potential outbreaks of violence leading up to the presidential inauguration next week, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a message reassuring the public that safeguarding the community is the sheriff’s department’s top focus.
In a video posted to social media Wednesday (see below), Villanueva addressed residents, saying “your public safety is my priority.”
Villanueva condemned the mob violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 — when a group of President Donald Trump‘s supporters breached the building in an attempt to halt the election certification. He compared his disapproval of that day’s events to “the rioting and looting we saw after the killing of George Floyd.”
“The rule of law applies to all, and no cause can be legitimately advanced through violence,” Villanueva said. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to honor and defend the people’s right to assemble peacefully and protest. We encourage everyone to exercise their First Amendment rights, which includes the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the freedom to address government, by all means. But it has to be in a manner that does not harm out communities.”
California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray, California Office of Emergency Services Director and Homeland Security Adviser Mark Ghilarducci and California National Guard Adjutant General David Baldwin issued a joint statement Wednesday about preparations for possible violence in Sacramento and beyond.
“Our collective agencies are working closely together and remain vigilant to respond to potential threats that may occur anywhere in the state, including the Capitol,” they said. “Collectively, we maintain strong relationships with our security and intelligence partners at the local, state and federal levels and are continually monitoring and sharing information about possible emerging threats to the state.”
The statement continues: “Together, our role is to safeguard lives and property and ensure that California remains a safe place for those who live, work and travel within the state while ensuring the ability of individuals and groups to lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Trump, who was impeached Wednesday for allegedly inciting last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress was certifying his defeat in the November election, issued a statement decrying any plans for disruptive activity leading up to the inauguration of Joe Biden.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” Trump said. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank you.”