A California police chief on Wednesday undermined a Republican congressman’s claim that a rowdy crowd outside a recent town hall forced him to leave the event after police told him he was endangered by the “deteriorating” situation.
“Things went very well that day,” Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn told the Sacramento Bee of Rep. Tom McClintock’s (R-CA) Feb. 5 town hall.
“They went as well as could be expected. … The people gathered weren’t causing problems,” he said.
McClintock alleged to reporters after departing the event that there was an “anarchist element” in the crowd, and that it marked the first time since he’d been in Congress that he needed a police escort to leave a town hall.
In a subsequent speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, he said that most of the attendees were “peaceful, decent and law-abiding folks.” But he also reiterated his charge that a “well-organized element” came to “disrupt” the event.
Hahn told the Bee that there were no arrests made and no acts of vandalism were reported at the event, where an overflow crowd of 500 gathered outside.
“Obviously there is a concern any time there are that many people gathered. The primary topics were health care and the ban on Muslim people, and obviously those are very emotional topics,” he said. “People were loud, but that’s the extent of it.”
Attendees who spoke to TPM shortly after the town hall gave similar accounts, describing a boisterous, friendly crowd of people who came to share genuine concerns about the Trump administration’s policies.
“If you look at the videos from the event, you can’t get any notion that it was aggressive,” Ramon Fliek, who attended with his wife, told TPM at the time. “There was an older woman with a poodle that ran after him and it’s like, okay, the older lady with the poodle is not going to threaten you. I understand that he might want to give that impression, but it was very pleasant.”
McClintock told the Bee that he had intended to schedule a second round of talks with attendees after the hour-long event ended because so many people turned up. Hahn told the newspaper that was never communicated to his department and they escorted McClintock out as a “precautionary measure.”
“It was our decision to escort him out, but it was not our decision to bring the event to a close,” Hahn told the Bee.