Violent Clashes Between Protesters In Berkeley
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Apr 15 2017
It was supposed to be a day of peaceful protests across 150 cities organized by anti-Trump supporters demanding to see the president’s tax return on Tax Day. Instead, in at least that bastion of tolerance and liberalism, the protest devolved into outright violence, when according to press reports hundreds of “alt-right” and “anti fa” protesters clashed. According to Mercury news, nine people have been arrested as fighting broke out and scores of people supporting or opposing President Trump converged on a park in downtown Berkeley Saturday. Police were urging people to avoid the downtown area around MLK Civic Center Park, citing a “large number of fights” that have occurred and numerous fireworks thrown in the crowds at the protests. Police said also that there have been numerous reports of pepper spray being used in the crowd. Trump backers were holding a “free speech” rally at the park, while opponents of the president and his policies headed to the same spot at about 10 am. It didn’t take long for hundreds people to gather in and around the park. About half of them were Trump supporters who were gathered to rally in support of the president, while the other half were anti-Trump protesters. Police in riot gear made nine arrests and seized numerous prohibited items from the demonstrators by the early afternoon.
LA Times adds that about 500 pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters faced off Saturday morning at a “Patriots Day” rally in Berkeley, where the two groups have violently clashed on city streets twice in the last three months. About 10 am Pacific Time, dozens of counter-protesters dressed in black and wearing masks tore down a plastic netting that separated the two groups in MLK Park. The Trump supporters moved forward with Pindosi flags and chants against “communists.” Two counter-demonstrators were led away by police in handcuffs. At one point, a loud explosion could be heard in the park and fist-fights broke out between members of the two groups. Berkeley police, wearing riot helmets, immediately rushed in and the crowd moved back. Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group the Oath Keepers, came from Montana with about 50 people wearing security gear to protect the Trump supporters. They were joined by bikers and others who vowed to fight members of an anti-fascist group if they crossed police barricades. Rhodes said:
I don’t mind hitting the neo-Nazis. In fact, I would kind of enjoy it.
But Rhodes credited Berkeley police for new tactics that kept the two sides apart and “our side chilled and relaxed.” Giving a speech at a well-secured end of the park, alt-right blogger Laura Southern railed against social change, Kim Kardashian and the media, and appealed:
Realize, Trump is only a foot in the door! We must become like Them! Subversive!
The rally, one of many being held across the country, is sponsored by the pro-Trump group Liberty Revival Alliance and was originally scheduled for noon to 4 pm in MLK Park. A regularly scheduled farmer’s market, which is usually held adjacent to the park, was cancelled as a precaution. A single vendor showed up Saturday to sell organic produce. A young woman operating the cash register said:
Rain or shine or fascism we will be here.
Berkeley Police told CBS 5 that police would have extra patrols on duty in case things got out of hand. About two dozen police officers were at the park early Saturday and set up a narrow entrance to control access. Those entering the park were prohibited from bringing the following items: metal pipes, baseball bats, poles, bricks, mace, knives, rocks, glass bottles, eggs or tasers. Dave Gottfried, 58, a self-employed Berkeley artist, passed “empathy kisses,” chocolate candy, out to both sides. He said:
I hoped to show empathy is the beginning of understanding. I feel we are going down the rabbit hole.
Bonus – We Are Change: