Police Arrest 20 at Clashing Protests
Berkeley Police arrested 20 people at a pair of conflicting rallies in Berkeley, California’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Aug. 5.
Contra Costa resident Amber Cummings announced a “No to Marxism in Berkeley 2” rally, to begin at 1 p.m. This announcement drew a larger group of “anti-fascist” demonstrators.
The confrontation led to much pushing, shoving, and shouting, and some homemade fireworks were thrown. Three people were injured, and all were treated at the scene.
We have made 17 arrests, and, if necessary, we will continue to make more. We're also continuing to confiscate weapons. pic.twitter.com/xJVYrdD2ag
— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) August 5, 2018
About 20 city-owned cars were damaged, and one set aflame. Three dumpsters were also ignited, according to marinij.com.
Dozens of law enforcement officers from agencies including the Berkeley Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Oakland Police Department, the Hayward Police Department, and the San Leandro Police Department were on the scene in riot gear, according to marinij.com.
We are confiscating weapons and making arrests. pic.twitter.com/YisxhW4FM0
— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) August 5, 2018
Most Arrests for Weapons Charges
Police arrested 20 people, mostly for violating a “no weapons” emergency ordinance the city passed Saturday, Aug. 4, specifically to stop violence at the competing rallies.
Sticks, pipes, metal or wooden poles, baseball bats, bricks, pepper spray, knives, and firearms were all banned from the park, SF Gate reported. Also banned were rocks, mace, axes, ice picks, improvised explosive devices, smoke canisters and slingshots. Masks or other face coverings, other than for medical or religious purposes, were also prohibited.
To ensure the peaceful expression of free speech, the City of Berkeley will temporarily prohibit sticks, pipes, poles and anything else that can be used for a "riot" on Sunday August 5 at two City parks as well as select streets. https://t.co/UKrgERmmQI
— City of Berkeley (@CityofBerkeley) August 4, 2018
In an Aug. 4 statement, Berkeley police announced, “These rules are intended to assist those wishing to peaceably express their First Amendment rights.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle some 400 far-left protesters gathered in Ohlone Park around 11 a.m. and marched through Berkeley’s streets, headed for Civic Park.
— Anser Hassan (@AnserHassan) August 5, 2018
The anti-Marxist demonstrators said they were there to stamp out communism in the United States.
“Go to hell, you commie scum,” organizer Amber Cummings bellowed through a bullhorn, marinij.com reported.
“I am here because we have to have a counter-protest to the far-right fascists,” 64-year-old retiree Luma Nichol, a member of the Freedom Socialist Party, told mainij.com.
Neither the anti-communist nor the anti-fascist groups had obtained permits to march or rally in the park.
Supposedly Canceled Rally
The rally on Aug. 5 was organized by Amber Gwen Cummings. Cummings had organized the original “No to Marxism” rally in Civic Center Park in August 2017, which ended in violence and arrests after clashes between right- and left-wing demonstrators.
The police released a statement on Aug. 4 which said, in part, “There are concerns that the motivation behind some of the Aug. 5 events is to mark and revive violent conflicts that occurred during protests in Berkeley in 2017, both on the University of California campus and in city parks and streets.”
Cummings sent out an email on Friday, Aug. 3, telling people not to come to her rally. She said she was afraid counter-protesters would get violent.
“This rally will take place, but it will be me alone attending, no one else please,” Cummings wrote, according to SF Gate.
“In the event I am hurt or killed attending this rally, I ask you to please not retaliate on each other as a result of my injuries. Let my life be the last one lost.”
Supporters of the right and left obviously chose not to heed her words.
Kyle Harris was one of the right-wing supporters who chose to go to the park on Sunday.
“When you call or demonize a group of people as fascists when we’re far from it, when we care about their rights more than they care about their own. I think we’re the ones who give more love,” Harris told ABC TV.
Police said they seized various weapons, including homemade fireworks; a sledgehammer with a rusty, metal head; wooden poles wrapped with black cloth; black helmets; shields; and pepper spray or mace.
Berkeley Police spokesman Officer Byron White said some protesters tried to smuggle rocks into the rally by taping them to the backs of signs, marinij.com reported.
Police also stopped a truck filled with banned potential weapons heading toward the protest site around 10 a.m.
White refused to say whether protesters from one side, the other, or both were stopped for carrying weapons.
A radical-left bookstore, Revolution Books set up a display near the park. According to marinij.com, people affiliated with the bookstore chanted, “America was never great,” and dragged an American flag along the ground. Anti-communist demonstrators tore down the books store’s display. No injuries were reported.
Replay of Saturday Violence
Far-left and right-wing supporters had clashed at a rally in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 4.
Right-wing group Patriot Prayer organized a rally in Portland, which drew counter-protesters in large numbers. As at Berkeley the next day, there were minor clashes between the various groups, but no serious injuries.
One group of counter-protesters confronted police near the intersection of Southwest Naito Parkway and Southwest Columbia Street and refused to disperse, the Oregonian reported.
Portland Police used flash-bang grenades and rushed the gang of protesters, dispersing them with minor force.
Portland police issued a statement on Saturday evening explaining that protesters had been “throwing an unknown chemical agent as well as other projectiles at officers,” before the order to engage was given.
“Unfortunately, today, some people chose to commit illegal acts of violence, which required members of the Police Bureau to take action in order to keep all participants and nonparticipants safe,” Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement, the Oregonian reported.
“This was a dangerous situation for all those involved, including officers, and I am disheartened that this kind of illegal behavior occurred in our beautiful city.”