Heeding calls from some on the left to condemn the documented violence of "antifa" activists on Sunday who attacked the vastly outnumbered right-wing rally-goers who showed up in downtown Berkeley on Sunday, Nancy Pelosi gave some statements Tuesday doing just that.
"People have a right to express themselves and other people have a right to respond to it. There should never be any violence involved in that," Pelosi said, according to CBS 5.
Pelosi has been attacked by the right and the alt-right for being an enemy of free speech, and for helping to squash the planned Patriot Prayer rally that had been planned for Saturday in San Francisco. But Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, State Senator Scott Wiener, and many others opposed the event because of the organizers past ties to white nationalists, who have taken part in his rallies in Seattle and Portland. Organizer Joey Gibson canceled the rally on Friday and gave statements suggesting that Pelosi and Lee had mischaracterized his event and attracted extremist elements to it in doing so. He further accused the city and the SFPD of a "setup" in which he and his supporters could be targeted by antifa activists for physical attack.
"I respect Trump supporters, I don’t like characterizations of them that are being made,” Pelosi said to CBS 5, however disingenuously. "But I do not support those who attract white nationalists, white supremacists, those who do a ‘Heil Hitler’ that is what the danger of it is."
She later issued a formal statement clarifying a hard-line stance against leftists who are violent. "The violent actions of people calling themselves Antifa in Berkeley this weekend, deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted."
Echoing that on Monday was Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who said of the black-clad activists, "I think we should classify them as a gang." As CBS 5 reported, Arreguin went on to say, "They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach."