Welp, that pro-Trump rally happened as scheduled on Saturday in downtown Berkeley despite the lack of a permit, and as was widely predicted, a bunch of black-clad anarchists showed up and started throwing punches. As the Washington Post reports and as you can see in the video above, "a few hundred" people showed up to the rally, including counter-protesters, and things turned quickly violent, with police arriving in riot gear.
Per the LA Times, seven people were injured and 10 people were arrested following the melee.
Saturday's March 4 Trump was one of about two dozen similar events happening simultaneously around the country, organized at least in part by the alt-right Proud Boys, a vaguely defined movement promulgated by former Vice editor turned conservative pundit, Gavin McInnes. And it was happening just a month after another alt-right hero, Milo Yiannopoulos, was supposed to speak at the UC Berkeley campus, but was instead met with a night of violent disruption and protest. When the March 4 event was announced in mid-February, it was billed as a rally in support of "free speech."
It was less of a show of free speech as free shouting, however, and as the Chronicle reports, "The fighting Saturday started even before the event began, with people throwing punches, swinging signs and tossing smoke bombs." Also, only about 60 to 75 Trump supporters were there, according to the Chronicle, and counter-protesters and self-proclaimed anarchists far outnumbered them.
According to the Daily Californian, "Trump supporters attempted to continue to march towards UC Berkeley’s campus as originally planned, but many counter-protesters blocked them to prevent them from leaving." Also, multiple Make America Great Again hats were set on fire.
Berkeley Councilman Ben Bartlett gave a statement to reporters saying "This is a sad day. We are better than this."
City spokesperson Matthai Chakko told the Chronicle that five people were arrested on suspicion of battery and four on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Some of those in attendance, and the injured, suggested that Berkeley police had waited too long to intervene, but Chakko said they held back initially because they thought their involvement would cause an escalation. "The goal was to work quickly to identify and arrest anyone specifically involved in criminal activity,” Chakko tells the Chronicle. “We also made an attempt to intercede during acts of violence.”
Said Trump supporter David Tomes who, bizarrely, is a 49-year-old yoga studio owner from Marin County and a Republican "This is the most immature and disgusting display of human interaction."
Has he read any of the president's tweets lately?