Violent clashes at a supposedly peaceful anti-racism rally in Berkley, California, have prompted police and security forces to intervene in order to prevent another deadly outburst of racial violence like the one that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month.
Thousands of protesters gathered at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park on Sunday to voice their opposition to racism and condemn President Donald Trump’s divisive response to the Charlottesville violence, where a white supremacist killed one protester and injured many others by smashing his car into them.
Police officers used tear gas to scatter the protesters after more than 100 far-left anti-fascist (antifa) members clad in black attire attacked Trump supporters in the crowd.
Holding shields emblazoned with the words “no hate” and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchists, the hooded attackers injured at least five people.
Police defended their handling of the situation and said at least 14 people were arrested during the clash.
They were charged with violations of the city’s emergency rules banning masks, sticks and potential weapons inside the demonstration area.
Police said antifa protesters were in the city to disrupt the “Say No to Marxism in America” rally, an event by white supremacist and other far-right groups that was canceled.
Protesters said they feared the violence would create a much-needed distraction for Trump and his supporters need to deflect attention from his response to Charlottesville.
The president has refused to publicly condemn white supremacist groups, blaming both sides for the violence.
Trump stirred more tension over the weekend by pardoning Joseph Arpaio, a former Arizona law enforcement officer known for his crackdown on undocumented immigrants entering from neighboring Mexico.
The Berkeley rally followed a similar event in San Francisco, where hundreds of people gathered at Alamo Square Park on Saturday to condemn white supremacy and bigotry.