Black-clad anarchists on Sunday stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least five people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco amid fears of violence.
The group of more than 100 hooded protesters, with shields emblazoned with the words “no hate” and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchists, busted through police lines, avoiding security checks by officers to take away possible weapons. Then the anarchists blended with a crowd of 2,000 largely peaceful protesters who turned up to demonstrate in a “Rally Against Hate” opposed to a much smaller gathering of right-wing protesters.
Among those assaulted was Joey Gibson, the leader of the Patriot Prayer group, which canceled a Saturday rally and was then prevented from holding a news conference when authorities closed off the public square Gibson planned to use. Gibson has denounced racism and said he launched Patriot Prayer after several supporters of President Donald Trump were beaten at a Trump campaign stop in San Jose, California, last year. Authorities nonetheless feared the group’s event could attract white nationalists, as it has in the past.
After the anarchists spotted Gibson at the Berkeley park, they pepper-sprayed him and chased him out as he backed away with his hands held in the air. Gibson rushed behind a line of police wearing riot gear, who set off a smoke bomb to drive away the anarchists.
Police pulled one supporter of President Donald Trump out of the park over a wall by his shirt as a crowd of about two dozen counter-demonstrators surrounded him and chanted “Nazi go home” and pushed him toward the edge of the park. At least two people were detained by officers for wearing bandannas covering their faces.
Anti-rally protesters chanted slogans “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA” and carried signs that said: “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate.”
A separate group of counterprotesters had assembled earlier Sunday at the nearby University of California, Berkeley campus and then marched park to merge with the anti-rally protesters who had already gathered there.