- Thomson Reuters
Right and left-wing protesters clashed on Saturday at a park in downtown Berkeley, California, exchanging blows and throwing bottles and cans as police in riot gear sought to separate the two camps, using explosive devices at one point.
At least 13 demonstrators were arrested during the brawls, according to Berkeley police, who also said they “anticipate more.” Police initially announced that there had been 15 arrests, but later tweeted out a correction.
“There continues to be a number of large fights, some property damage and numerous projectiles being thrown, including fireworks,” law enforcement officials said.
And although a makeshift barrier had been raised between the two groups, it did not deter demonstrators, according to NBC’s Bay Area affiliate.
Theclashes broke out at an event originally organized as a so-called “Patriots Day” free speech rally and picnic by conservative activists. Several people appeared to suffer minor injuries. There were also reports of pepper spray and tear gas being used, as well as fireworks being thrown into the crowd.
A small blast, tear gas, a charge, and a small scuffle broken up by police at Berkeley. People coughing, tearing up pic.twitter.com/sX9bWIH251
— Alan Yuhas (@AlanYuhas) April 15, 2017
— Christien Kafton (@CKaftonKTVU) April 15, 2017
Photographs from the brawls show Trump supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” gear and using masks and helmets to cover their faces.
- Thomson Reuters
Demonstrators also used skateboards and helmets as weapons.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) April 15, 2017
And although Berkeley police had specifically prohibited weapons like knives, bricks, rocks, glass bottles, and more from being brought to Civic Center Park, they confiscated a number of those items from people entering the area.
— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) April 15, 2017
“I wanted to show my support (for President Donald Trump),” said Daryl Tempesta, 52, who said he served in the U.S. Air Force near the end of the Cold War.
“As a veteran, I like the track America is on, and that Trump is willing to stand and say we are still America and we are not going to be globalist, we’re not going to be a communist country. That’s a message I can get behind,” Tempesta said.
Among the counter-protesters were self-styled anarchists of the left, dressed in black and covering their faces with masks or bandanas.
As a result of the protests, which spread from the park to the streets, Berkeley’s downtown BART station has been closed down.