20-year-old Louise Rosealma came to the frontlines of Berkeley Saturday with a group of friends in order to express their outrage at neo-nazis and the alt-right. She and her boyfriend both left the battleground bruised and bloodied, and now she's speaking out about what she experienced before and after cameras captured her being punched in the face, seemingly unprovoked, by a man who multiple sources have identified as 30-year-old Nathan Damigo, a white nationalist and self-proclaimed "identitarian" who has been spreading white supremacist propaganda around Cal State Stanislaus.
Rosealma spoke exclusively with CBS 5 and explains that she drove up early Saturday morning from Southern California, where she, her boyfriend, and a couple of friends are part of the Oak Roots Collective a newly formed anarchist, anti-fascist group based in Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley. The group arrived in Berkeley around 1 p.m. when the street fighting was already well underway.
Fairly soon, the 5-foot, 1-inch Rosealma, who weighs 95 pounds, says she found herself cornered near a wall, and she says "I was just trying to block myself away from different people who were just pushing me and attacking other people."
Then, she says, "From the corner of my eye I saw this fist coming at me," and she says "[Damigo] punched me on the bridge of my nose. It cut it a little bit. I got thrown down and I’m pretty sure he just ran [away]. I got right back up. I was punched twice more by two other people. People kept trying to throw me down to hit my head on the rocks that were in the planter. I was just trying to not get my skull cracked open." She soon found her boyfriend nearby covered in blood.
Rosealma was likely targeted because she was wearing all black and sported dreadlocks, trademarks of the "antifa" as groups like hers call themselves a word the alt-right now employs as a kind of slur and stand-in for any militant-seeming enemy on the left though it's unclear if anything occurred prior to the moment caught on video to provoke the attack.
And she wants to set the record straight about a Facebook post she wrote that the alt-right has taken out of context to prove that she was there to do harm. She wrote, "Heading to Berkeley to disrupt the neo-Nazi / white supremacist jerk circle today. Nervous af but determined to bring back 100 nazi scalps." This was a reference to a line from Inglorious Basterds, she explains. "I guess no has seen Quentin Tarantino movies. I thought that was going to be obvious, but I guess not." (The line, delivered by Brad Pitt's character, is "Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps!")
The problem that many observers have pointed out is that violence begets violence, and neither side comes out of these street rumbles looking like they accomplished anything, and both look like they arrived cruising for a physical fight.
Says Rosealma, "We knew that there was probably going to be violence. We were hoping for the best, but expecting the worst [We wanted] to show that neo-nazis just can’t walk into the street and march and like spieling out this violent genocidal rhetoric and get away with it without anything happening to them."
And Rosealma says that she's trying to stick up for herself in the face of a massive amount of social media harassment following the viral video of the punch, and the alt-right's effort to villainize her. (In one instance, activists on the left say that a glass bottle was apparently Photoshopped into her hand in one photo, but the photo appears to have come from Reuters.)*
"They are trying to make me into this trophy the victory of the alt right and neo-nazis,” she tells CBS 5. “It’s petty and pathetic That they knocked over a 95-pound person [The harassment] has been non-stop Requests on Instagram. Facebook, Youtube They just are trying to get to me."
* This post has been corrected to show that we can't confirm the legitimacy of the photo of the person with the bottle, or whether Rosealma is in the photo.