California Governor Gavin Newsom has canceled the annual Christmas tree lighting at the state capitol due to planned pro-Palestinian protests, opting for a virtual event instead.
The decision was made in response to safety concerns and protests impacting events nationwide.
The Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights and other organizations had planned to protest at the event, criticizing Newsom’s stance on the Gaza conflict. (Trending: Elon Musk Condemns Arrest Of Jan 6 Protester)
“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,” the spokesperson stated.
“The program is unchanged and viewers can tune in Wednesday evening to watch this year’s festivities.”
The cancellation has drawn criticism from California GOP officials, with accusations of Newsom simply avoiding confrontation and lacking the courage to stand up to extremists.
“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 of Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights.
“Gavin Newsom still won’t condemn the pro-Hamas and antisemitic protests that shut down his own party’s recent convention, so it’s no surprise he’d prefer to hide from a tree lighting where he risked being confronted by more protesters,” GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said.
“Newsom is a modern-day Grinch whose cowardice is punishing the public and small businesses who’d planned on celebrating this joyous occasion,” said Patterson.
“First Newsom was silent when terrorist sympathizers stormed his own party convention, and now he’s allowed pro-Hamas radicals to intimidate him into canceling an event that was supposed to spread a message of unity, joy and peace. It’s pathetic that he doesn’t have the spine to stand up to these extremists,” said California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher.