In this screenshot from the livestream of the Sacramento City Council meeting on May 23, protesters against antisemitic speakers hold up signs, including the post-Holocaust slogan "Never Again" and an antifa black flag logo inside a Star of David.
In this screenshot from the livestream of the Sacramento City Council meeting on May 23, protesters against antisemitic speakers hold up signs, including the post-Holocaust slogan "Never Again" and an antifa black flag logo inside a Star of David.

Antisemites, protesters plunge Sacramento city council meeting into chaos

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A Sacramento City Council meeting turned chaotic Tuesday when protesters, shouting and holding up signs, preempted an address by a man who has repeatedly spewed antisemitism in public.

Demonstrators, some holding a sign in Hebrew, refused to allow what they anticipated would be Ryan Messano’s fourth antisemitic speech in four consecutive weeks.

“This week, they were prepared for him,” said Javana Abrussezze, a witness to the confrontation. “They had big ol’ signs ready. They just cut him off and started yelling at him. They were like, ‘You’re a Nazi! You’re not welcome here!’” Abrussezee said.

The interruption came about an hour and a half into the public meeting, which then went into recess.

Once the meeting was paused, the situation became even more disorderly and turned violent, according to witness accounts and cellphone video footage. At one point, a protester opposed to Messano got into the face of a man who had come in support of him.


WARNING: This video depicts a physical altercation and includes explicit language.

 

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“Swing, motherf–r,” the protester said, provoking the man and pushing him. As the Messano ally retreated, he threw a punch that didn’t connect. Eventually police were called to clear the council chamber, according to media reports.

Ryan Messano as seen on a Yelp listing for his now-defunct insurance business.
Ryan Messano as seen on a Yelp listing for his now-defunct insurance business.

Messano, who at one point sold insurance in Vallejo, has been described in the California press as a “perennial gadfly” who frequently attends public meetings to spout virulently homophobic and antisemitic views. In 2019, he attended a so-called “Straight Pride” rally in Modesto where he wore a MAGA hat in support of the former president.

“Twenty years ago, in America, homosexuality was illegal,” he incorrectly told a reporter at the Modesto rally. “We’ve legalized it, and now look what we’ve got — Sodom has come right here to Modesto.”

Like many antisemites, Messano falsely accuses Jews of exerting total control over world events and blames a whole host of societal ills — from Covid to the high cost of housing — on the Jewish people. During his tirades, Messano has also directly attacked Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is Jewish.

“There is no law,” Messano railed during a Sacramento City Council meeting on April 18, “because the information and money are controlled by a small group of people. And if you say their name, you’re called an antisemite, which you’re just itching to do right now. But I know your games.”

“I’ve heard enough of you,” Steinberg replied at that meeting.

“No you’re not,” Messano replied with a smirk. “I have free speech. I have free speech.” He pointed a finger at Steinberg. “You Jews — this is your game. This is what you play.”

Messano has returned week after week, ostensibly to comment on public issues, such as affordable housing. Each time, his speech has returned to Jews, whom he sometimes refers to as “bankers.”

The council has allowed Messano to speak, while officials have at times physically turned their backs during his addresses. Steinberg has occasionally responded with colorful language.

Notably, at Tuesday’s meeting, Messano did not come alone. Four other white men accompanied him, including one wearing a shirt sold by the Goyim Defense League, the virulently antisemitic group led by 40-year-old Jon Minadeo Jr., formerly of Petaluma. The baseball jersey with the GDL moniker also included the number “88,” a common white supremacist numerical code signifying the letters “HH,” short for “Heil Hitler.”

Twitter user @NoMercyForPigs took this picture of the cadre of white supremacists at the May 23 Sacramento City Council meeting.
Twitter user @NoMercyForPigs took this picture of the cadre of white supremacists at the May 23 Sacramento City Council meeting.

With the goal of spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories via the internet and with in-person distribution of hate literature, the group’s flyers have peppered driveways and sidewalks hundreds of times in nearly all 50 states since 2019.

Tuesday’s incident in Sacramento comes as the Anti-Defamation League continues to monitor a rise in antisemitic and white supremacist activity in California. In a report released earlier this month called “Hate in the Golden State,” the ADL charted a 41 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022 over the previous year, ranging from flier campaigns to assaults.

“Over the past two years, California has dealt with a significant increase in extremist activity driven by a variety of factors, including increased collaboration between small white supremacist and antisemitic networks, as well as continued activity by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Rise Above Movement,” the report says.

Meanwhile, some extremists have tried to enter mainstream politics. Among the four men with Messano on Tuesday was Jeffrey Perrine, who has run for public office twice in the Sacramento area. Presenting himself as a families-first, ultra-conservative candidate, he has garnered thousands of votes each time.

On Perrine’s campaign website for a seat on the San Juan Unified School District board last year, he said he was born and raised in Sacramento, “married [his] best friend” and has two young children in the district.

“I will give all families a voice, as they are who I will serve,” he wrote.

He earned 3,125 votes in the election and came in third, according to Ballotpedia.

Perrine has also acknowledged membership in the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys, a self-described “Western chauvinist” group that helped lead the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

His remarks have gone past what the First Amendment allows.

Perrine was expelled from the Sacramento Republican Party central committee after the riot.

His presence with Messano at the meeting sheds light on the radical associations of Perrine, who also ran for California State Assembly last year as a Republican, collecting 6,026 votes in the primary and coming in fourth place in District 7.

While Perrine had cryptically reposted anti-Israel tweets in recent years, his affiliations with overt antisemitism hadn’t been explored in the local press. Yet from those who follow Perrine closely, his attraction to antisemitism has been documented.

In 2019, Perrine appeared on an antisemitic podcast called “The Goy Fellas,” whose logo bore a representation of Hitler.

“Jeffrey Perrine, former Proud Boy and fixture in the Sacramento Patriot scene just casually on a podcast talking about how most landlords are Jews right now on YouTube,” tweeted LCRWnews, or Left Coast Right Watch, an account with over 46,000 followers that monitors right-wing extremism.

Meanwhile, Perrine believes his views are represented in a large swath of Sacramento County.

“There are 5,000 mother f–rs just like me in Orangevale,” he yelled during the chaos Tuesday. He wore a hat emblazoned with Pepe the Frog, a symbol of the alt-right popularized on the internet, and a black T-shirt that read “Pure Blood.”

Public officials expressed outrage and concern about the presence of extremists at the meeting.

“I am Jewish & have been offended & disturbed each time the anti-Semitic has spoken publicly,” council member Lisa Kaplan wrote hastily on Twitter, describing why the meeting was put into recess. “Tonight he brought more proud boys- I did not feel safe w them in the audience (period).”

Kat, a Jewish trans woman in her 20s, was among the protesters who learned about Messano’s planned address over social media. She described the demonstrators as “community members who are disgusted by Nazism” and who were “fed up” with his weekly addresses.

“His remarks have gone past what the First Amendment allows,” Kat said. She asked not to be identified to protect her safety, adding, “The First Amendment does not allow defamatory speech, or threatening words. He has threatened people and defamed the mayor and the Jewish community.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.