Three people were pepper sprayed south of the UC Berkeley campus Saturday afternoon after a pro-Palestine protest staged in an intersection drew pro-Israel supporters, according to police.
According to Berkeley Police Department Lt. Dave Frankel, a group of about 10 pro-Palestine demonstrators protesting Israeli occupation momentarily took over the intersection of Telegraph and Durant avenues so that they could chant and wave pro-Palestine signs Saturday afternoon.
Two Israel supporters apparently had foreknowledge of the event and showed up at the intersection with pepper spray and began videotaping the protests and shouting counter chants, according to Frankel. One of the pro-Israel supporters also had a stun gun, Frankel said.
Then, three people not involved with either side of the protest tried to mediate the situation, at which point the pro-Israel protesters brandished the pepper spray and stun gun at the non-involved individuals, according to Frankel.
In response, one of the three who had originally tried to de-escalate the situation allegedly brandished a large stick at the pro-Israel supporters.
The two pro-Israel supporters then pepper sprayed the three non-involved individuals, according to Frankel.
According to Frankel, officers responded to the scene after the department received several reports at around 2:24 p.m. of someone being pepper sprayed there.
When the police arrived, the protesters had scattered but the pepper-sprayed victims identified the two who allegedly sprayed them and signed citizen’s arrest forms, Frankel said. The pepper spray and stun gun were confiscated, and the two individuals accused of spraying were cited and released at the scene, according to Frankel.
According to Frankel, Berkeley Fire Department paramedics showed up at the scene and decontaminated the three who had been sprayed but did not transport them to the hospital.
Because neither the pro-Israel nor pro-Palestine supporters were pepper sprayed, the police department is not considering the incident a hate crime, Frankel said.