A political rally in Berkeley, California turned violent on Sunday as thousands marched on the city's historic Martin Luther King Civc Center Park. Several fights broke out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters, though no major injuries have been reported. At least 12 people have been arrested in Berkeley, according to local CBS affiliate KCBS, though that number could climb as reports continue to come in.
The Los Angeles Times reported that there were only "a handful of Trump supporters" surrounded by thousands of counter-protesters. The vast majority of those protesters seem to have been there marching peacefully, decked out with inspirational signs and banners. However, other militant Antifa activists reportedly came to the protests armed with shields and weapons.
The original rally planned in Berkeley was called "Say No To Marxism." Though its organizer has denounced groups that don't promote diversity, it's been known to attract alt-right Americans, something that inspired progressives to plan the Bay Area Rally Against Hate for the same day. Eventually, the anti-Marxism rally's organizer called the rally off though for fear of things turning violent.
Just the day prior, right-wing group Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson had planned a rally in San Francisco on Saturday, but canceled the event because he also believed there was a possibility of violence breaking out. He attributed the threat to liberal California politicians in a Facebook Live video on Friday.
“The rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, Mayor [Ed] Lee, the media, all these people are saying that we’re white supremacists and is bringing tons of extremists," Gibson said. "We have a lot of respect for the citizens of San Francisco, and at the end of the day we want people to be safe.”
The active police presence at the Berkeley rally may have saved lived — though counter-protesters said that that police barricades blocked them from entering the park, they also prevented cars from driving past. One death occurred earlier this month at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a counter-protester was hit by a supposed white supremacist who drove his car through a crowded street.
The rally in Berkeley may be one of the most intense that the country sees for a while — the city has a continuing legacy of militant liberal activism and there are few places across the country where political tensions may be so high. Several other rallies have passed peacefully in the interim between Charlottesville and Berkeley, so it seems that those two events may be outliers in this neo-protest era. Most people seem to just want to avoid violence and demonstrate in peace.