In contrast to the largely controlled chaos and peaceful rallying that went on a day earlier in San Francisco, the mostly peaceful demonstrations in Berkeley on Sunday devolved into moments of violent clashes between black-clad leftist activists and right-wing rally-goers who arrived in much smaller numbers. As the Chronicle reports, while Berkeley police attempted to fence off Civic Center Park and separate the two factions, they became overwhelmed at around 1 p.m. Sunday as hundreds of protesters on the left arrived at the park and pushed their way through barriers to confront attendees of an unpermitted, ostensibly canceled "anti-Marxism" rally.
Reportedly some 4,000 people showed up to counter-protest Sunday, and the actions of the vast majority were peaceful by most accounts as 48 Hills laments, the violent actions of the few unfortunately are the ones that make headlines and evening news broadcasts.
A total of 13 people were arrested for a variety of offenses.
Berkeley police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats tells the paper, "We made a strategic decision to move our officers. We also want people to freely assemble."
Officers attempted to control fights on the outskirts of the park using gas masks and smoke canisters, and at least several activists on the right, like Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson, had to be "rescued" and escorted out of the area by police after being pepper-sprayed by black-clad "antifa."
Alt-right figure Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman took to Twitter Sunday to call the Berkeley event a "setup" by police, echoing what Gibson had said about his canceled Crissy Field rally claiming that police had, with their safety measures, created a situation in which he and his Patriot Prayer cohort would be attacked by counter-protesters and anti-fascist activists.
Gibson responded on Facebook by posting multiple photos and video of himself being chased out of the Berkeley park, and a photo of him being handcuffed by police, without clarification that he was not arrested.
Meanwhile, the original organizer of the Berkeley rally, Amber Gwen Cummings, had said Friday she would attend the rally alone, and discouraged others from attending, suggesting she could be a martyr at the hands of antifa. "Let mine by the last life lost," she said. On Facebook last night, Cummings responded to a commenter who suggested that she had not shown up at all saying, "Did your little commie self get upset that I came and touched down on your park and made the event anyways LOL. Awww you upset. A warrior is intelligent and uses what they can to accomplish the mission and I did just that. Freedom one [sic] today."
In San Francisco, police decided to barricade Alamo Square announced at the last minute as the site of a planned "news conference" by Gibson Saturday afternoon to replace his canceled Crissy Field rally, which many believed was simply an attempt to hold the rally in a different, less secure and picturesque location early on Saturday morning, blocking access to the park by counter-protesters who arrived before noon, and causing Gibson to cancel the event. A peaceful rally "against hate" then took shape outside one corner of the park at Hayes and Steiner, and hundreds of activists who had been marching for several hours through the neighborhood ultimately disbanded and/or headed to the large planned rally at Civic Center.