Politics | August 28, 2017 9:13 am

Counterprotesters and Trump Supporters Clash at ‘No to Marxism in Berkeley’ Rally

The counterprotesters outnumbered the police.

Antifa members and counter protesters in Berkeley
Antifa members and counter protesters gather during a rightwing No-To-Marxism rally on August 27, 2017 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Berkeley, California. / AFP PHOTO / Amy Osborne (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of counterprotesters drove out — sometimes violently — a small group of right-wing activists who gathered in Berkeley to rail against the city’s more liberal and progressive politics. The counterprotesters, some of whom were anarchists dressed in black clothing, overwhelmed the large contingent of police officers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

The ‘No to Marxism in Berkeley’ rally was held in and around Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. Police arrived before the 1 p.m. start to put up barricades and confiscate many items, such as masks, pepper spray and even water bottles. There were about 400 police officers ready at the rally, the Chronicle reports

However, the crowd of counterprotesters swelled to several times that size. Officers eventually stepped aside and let hundreds of people climb the barriers into the park, said Officer Jennifer Coats, a spokeswoman for Berkeley police told the Chronicle. 

A group of masked protesters, often referred to as Antifa or anti-fascists, significantly outnumbered the alt-right people who had come for the rally, many of whom wore red to show their support for President Trump, writes SF Gate. 

According to SF Gate, the anarchists did get violent, and in one case attacked a man before a radio host for Reveal, Al Jetson, jumped in. SF Gate also reports that anarchists attacked reporters who were there documenting their actions.

Thirteen people were arrested, including one for assault with a deadly weapon, Coats said. Most were accused of bringing banned items into the park. Two people were taken to the hospital, and six people reported non-life-threatening injuries.

Footage shows Joey Gibson — the leader of the conservative group Patriot Prayer who canceled a different rally meant for Saturday at Crissy Field in San Francisco after city leaders criticized it for inciting white nationalists — being chased into the “embrace of riot-gear-glad cops.”

There had been peaceful anti-hate demonstrations across San Francisco on Saturday. Hundreds of people showed up to oppose hate speech, racism, and white supremacy.

“It’s important for people to show up and make it unacceptable for right-wing white supremacists to spew hate and incite violence,” said Jeff Conant, 50, of Berkeley, to SF Gate. He helped organize the anti-hate rally.

Many people at the protest that turned violent on Sunday had no connection to the anarchist group and were there to voice opposition to Trump’s policies.

Reactions to the violence were mixed. Some observers were satisfied to watch far-left protesters chase off Trump supporters, writes Chronicle.

“They’ve got to be chased out,” Lisa Argento, 53, said to the Chronicle. “I moved to the Bay Area and pay good money to live here. I don’t want these people here. They need to leave us the f-ck alone.”

Others were disappointed the rally turned violent.

“This doesn’t have to be about violence,” said Jay Pino, 23, to the Chronicle. He traveled from New Mexico to Berkeley to protest the right-wing rally. “The aggressive people here, I get it. It’s hard to express their anger, and it’s also hard to keep it in. I’m here to try to keep the peace. No matter how bad the other side is, we have to pray for them as well.”