Scuffles, fistfights erupt as pro and anti-Trump rallies clash in Berkeley
Clashes between opposing political camps erupted in Berkeley, California, as Trump supporters and opponents squared off under the watchful eye of police in riot gear.
People participating in the "March 4 Trump" demonstration, to show support for President Donald Trump, were met by a "By Any Means Necessary" counter-demonstration group in downtown Berkeley on Saturday afternoon.
Dozens of rival activists stood face to face, chanting at each other “No racist, fascist USA” and "Build the wall,” before violence erupted.
The police contingent, deployed to the scene for security following last month clashes failed to intervene when the first punches were thrown at about 2pm, local time, East Bay Times reports.
While it is unclear who started the fight, which involved roughly a dozen people from both camps, riot gear police allowed the scuffle to play-out.
A half-hour later, another fight flared up, followed by smaller, sporadic scuffles, which the publication noted involved mostly anti-Trump protesters.
There’s been two to three fist fights that police officers had had to intervene in, BPD spokesperson Office Byron White told The Daily Californian news.
By 3 pm, the opposing camps began pepper spaying each other.
The spokesman added that Berkley PD received at least one report of a person who was pepper-sprayed by another individual in the crowd.
In addition, one person was injured and some of his teeth knocked out.
Overall, there’s been five arrests and three injuries, White confirmed to Berkeley Side News.
White said that most police officers are armed with batons, pepper spray, rubber bullets and smaller impact projectiles that they can use to mark particular agitators.
“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.”
During the skirmish, a journalist taking still photographs, was hit in the face and needed medical treatment, KTVU reports.
The rally proceeded to the University of California, Berkeley campus where organizers planned to meet at 3pm, according to police.
Berkeley police department had been in touch with organizers of both events prior to the demonstrations.
Fearing a repeat of last month’s violence, Sgt. Andrew Frankel confirmed to NBC Bay Area news that “the department is prepared for a number of different contingencies.”
Saturday's scuffles follow a riot that broke out at UC Berkeley earlier this year, when the former senior editor of Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos, was supposed to speak on campus.