Masked anarchists disrupt peaceful Berkeley protest, attack pro-Trump demonstrators.

Masked Anarchists Disrupt Berkeley Counterprotest, Attack Pro-Trump Demonstrators

Masked Anarchists Disrupt Berkeley Counterprotest, Attack Pro-Trump Demonstrators

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Aug. 27 2017 11:40 PM

Masked Anarchists Attack Pro-Trump Demonstrators in Berkeley

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Antifa members and counterprotesters gather during a right-wing Say No to Marxism rally on Sunday at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Berkeley, California.

Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

A small group of anarchists dressed in black clothing and wearing masks attacked a tiny group of right-wing demonstrators who had gathered in a Berkeley park on Sunday and beat up at least four of them. The approximately 100 anarchists broke through a police barricade and disrupted what had been a largely peaceful protest, in which thousands of demonstrators turned up to join a “Rally Against Hate” that was set to oppose a “Say No to Marxism” demonstration. The Trump supporter who organized the “anti-Marxism” rally ended up canceling the event out of fear that violence would break out, but thousands of counterprotesters still took to the streets.

The counterprotesters vastly outnumbered the few dozen pro-Trump demonstrators and surrounded them. There were a few shoving matches and a bit of violence broke out between the groups. But things were mostly peaceful until the anarchists arrived and began violently assaulting the right-wing protesters. Among those attacked was Joey Gibson, the leader of the Patriot Prayer group who had canceled a planned rally in San Francisco on Saturday. In another case, a small group of the anti-fascist protesters, known popularly as antifa, savagely beat a man before someone broke up the violence. The black-clad protesters also attacked journalists who filmed their violent actions.

Some of the protesters who had gathered to protest against hate and white supremacists expressed shock at the violent turn of events. “We're just puzzled as to why people consider violence a valid tactic,” a 60-year-old Berkeley resident who left the protest when things turned chaotic. “We felt disappointed and surprised by how many people were not in any way discreet about being with antifa—in fact being very bold and prepared to be violent.”

Authorities arrested at least 14 people, mostly for bringing banned items into the park. Six people were injured, including two who were taken to the hospital.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.