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Newsom bridge walk an insult to Selma walk

 

Sadly, there’s no cure for political tone-deafness.

Once again, Gov. Gavin Newsom presents with symptoms of the disorder, kicking off the festivities of his second inauguration with a pretentious march across Sacramento’s Tower Bridge.

The inauguration march, which the Newsom team called a “March for Democracy,” was scheduled on Jan. 6, apparently in the hope that viewers would see dramatic pictures of Newsom leading a march across a bridge and contrast those images with the actions of former President Trump and his supporters on the same date two years ago.

A rally at the state Capitol might have made that point. But the march across the bridge was a disrespectful attempt to hijack the iconic images of civil rights protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a historic watershed event in the fight for voting rights.

It was in bad taste for the governor to visually compare himself to then-25-year-old future congressman John Lewis, who walked at the front of the march of about 600 civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, on that day in 1965 that went into the history books as Bloody Sunday. When the peaceful voting rights protesters crossed the steel-arched Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, they were met by state troopers wielding billy clubs and county sheriff’s deputies on horseback.

“It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march,” Major John Cloud shouted into a bullhorn, “This is an unlawful assembly. You have to disperse, you are ordered to disperse.” When one of the protest leaders, Hosea Williams, politely asked to speak to Cloud, the answer came back, “I’ve got nothing further to say to you.”

Lewis and Williams would not turn around and walk away. The troopers, wearing gas masks, advanced on the protesters, who were beaten and tear-gassed despite the fact that they were not fighting back. Lewis was knocked to the ground and hit in the head with a nightstick. The deputies on horseback moved forward and forced the protesters back by swinging clubs, whips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire.

That’s what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama in 1965.

Here’s what happened on the Tower Bridge in Sacramento last week. The governor welcomed supporters who had filled out an online form with their contact information to join the march. The Capitol press corps was prohibited from following the march or asking any questions. The governor, his wife and his four children joined hands at the front of the crowd and led the march as cameras captured the images.

Angela Hart, a senior correspondent for CaliforniaHealthline, noted on Twitter that press access was restricted after the photo op, and CalMatters reporter Alexei Koseff tweeted that Gov. Newsom’s oldest daughter was wearing sneakers that retailed for $545 plus tax. Koseff posted a link to the online product page for Golden Goose Women’s Super-Star sneakers in silver leather.

Gov. Newsom is wealthy and powerful, and he provides his family with a life of luxury and privilege. That’s fine, but he shouldn’t drag them in front of cameras for a phony “March for Democracy” as if they are heirs to a legacy of struggle.

Newsom’s true colors were captured by an overhead camera in a helicopter. Halfway through the march, the would-be presidential candidate got into a waiting vehicle for an easy ride the rest of the way.

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