About 300 people attended the “March 4 Trump” rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Saturday afternoon. At least 10 were arrested.
The crowd was composed of both supporters of President Donald Trump and activists protesting the rally, including members of the national group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN. BAMN organizers arrived at the park for the counter-protest about noon and Trump supporters arrived for the march at 2:00 p.m.
According to a Berkeley Police Department Nixle alert released about 6 p.m., BPD arrested at least 10 people at the march. Five people were arrested on charges of battery and four on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon — including one who allegedly possessed a dagger. Another person was charged with resisting arrest. The alert also said seven people were evaluated for medical injuries, although none needed nor requested to go to the hospital.
More than 30 officers from BPD, armed with less lethal munitions, were in attendance to help ensure the public’s safety. BPD released a Nixle alert Friday night, informing the community of the planned rally. The alert warned community members to proceed with caution and advised them to report any criminal acts to BPD.
According to BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White, the city took extensive measures to prepare for this demonstration, including communicating with local businesses. The city also coordinated with public works to ensure trash cans were emptied prior to the protest, White said. He added that the city set up a website for community members to upload photos and videos to help BPD identify suspects.
On Feb. 1, violent protests erupted in response to a scheduled appearance of controversial conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, causing the event to be canceled. About 150 “black bloc” protesters within the crowd of 1,500 set off fireworks, threw rocks and bricks and damaged surrounding businesses in the city.
Rich Black, a March 4 Trump organizer, said he arranged the protest to support free speech and libertarian values. At the rally, he urged his supporters to refrain from using violence, telling them to “disengage.”
Some individuals attending the Trump march carried flags and banners, including one that said, “Liberty or death, don’t tread on me.” Counter-protesters, however, chanted phrases like “No Donald Trump, no KKK, no racist, fascist USA.”
“I’ve lived under Castro. I know what fascism is,” said Linda Rosner, who identified as a Republican, at the march. “Do you think freedom of speech would be allowed?”
According to David Craig, Berkeley College Republicans treasurer, BCR did not officially promote or endorse the event.
Within the crowd, there were reports of the use of blue smoke bombs and pepper spray. Sam Wassner, a BAMN member who was at the protest, alleged that he saw Trump supporters pepper spray and shove two BAMN members after throwing BAMN’s bullhorn away.
According to White, there were at least two to three fist fights in which BPD officers intervened. He added that there was also a report of one person who was injured in a fight, with some of their teeth knocked out.
In a BPD Nixle alert released about 4:26 p.m., BPD denied the rumors circulating on social media about a person who reportedly died of a stab wound.
Many BPD officers stood outside of the crowd, videorecording the event to later identify individuals.
“Right now we’re continuing to monitor the situation,” White said. “People who are attending this event, they should know that, yes, we are video recording as well. … So we are not just in the park itself but we’re also looking to potentially identify people in the future if we cannot identify them today.”
BPD officers were armed with both batons and pepper spray, according to White. He added that some officers also had less-lethal munitions with them, including rubber bullets and smaller impact projectiles that they can use to mark particular agitators.
About 3 p.m., someone pepper-sprayed a large group of people at the rally. Many ran out of the crowd holding their eyes. There were also reports of firecrackers being deployed.
“You can pepper-spray me again, you can punch me again, I’m here to defend speech,” said Daniel Hampton, an Oakland resident.
Trump supporters attempted to continue to march towards UC Berkeley’s campus as originally planned, but many counter-protesters blocked them to prevent them from leaving. One woman was pushed into the bush by the crowd in the scuffle. Multiple hats, including a “Make America Great” hat and a “Proud Republican” hat, were set on fire by counter-protesters.
Protesters also chanted slogans like “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump, get out of our way.”
“You want to take funding from schools, health care,” said Michael Hornsby, a counter-protester and Berkeley resident. “What … do you want us to do? We ain’t got nothing.”
About 3:22 p.m., BPD officers blocked off the street from Allston Way to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, but later moved onto the sidewalk. BPD released a Nixle alert about 3:34 p.m., in which it advised the public that the demonstration had begun marching on Allston Way, heading eastbound toward the UC Berkeley campus. The crowd eventually circulated back to the park.
The rally came to a conclusion about 6 p.m., according to the BPD Nixle alert. BPD confiscated several items in an effort to prevent violence, including metal pipes, bats, “2x4s,” pieces of wood and bricks.
“Because of the nature of the crowd, police are not always able to make immediate arrests without inciting further violence or injuring peaceful bystanders,” the alert said. “Police work to document and identify suspects and arrest them at the first available time. Sometimes that’s during the event. Sometimes, that’s in the days that follow. The community can assist with this by reporting crimes and offering assistance in identifying or locating suspects.”