.Liveblog: Thousands of Anti-Fascist Demonstrators Protest in Downtown Berkeley

A small number of far-right and white supremacist protesters were quickly driven out.

Update at 3:20 p.m.: The large anti-fascist protest in Berkeley is winding down. Anti-hate protesters declared victory after marching from downtown to Ohlone Park. The small number of fascists never really stood a chance and were driven easily from the city. Hate lost again today.

In all, there were an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 protesters—the vast majority of whom were there to demonstrate against white supremacists and far-right members who started the day with an “anti-Marxism” rally. A substantial number of the counterprotesters were black-masked members of antifa. A few antifa members violently beat up a couple of alleged neo-Nazis.

Police said there were 14 arrests. Police took some white supremacists into police custody for their own protection.

Update at 2:45 p.m. The small number of white supremacists and far-right demonstrators who showed up at the beginning of today’s events are now all gone. Black-masked antifa members beat up a few of them, police arrested others, and some just fled the area.

And there are now thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators marching through downtown. East Bay comedian W. Kamau Bell is riding in the antiracist counterprotesters’ truck chanting “love always wins.”

Update at 2:10 p.m.: Antifa members badly beat up an alt-right demonstrator on a downtown street.

Shane Bauer, reporter at Mother Jones, is reporting on Twitter that Joey Gibson, an organizer of #patriotprayer rally in San Francisco yesterday, showed up at today’s demonstration in Berkeley and was promptly arrested by police.

Update at 1:45 p.m
.: What began today as an “anti-Marxism” rally by far-right activists and then turned into an anti-hate demonstration by East Bay residents, is turning into a massive anarchist protest with black masked demonstrators massing in the downtown Berkeley area.

At least one protester set off a smoke bomb. However, there have no reports of widespread violence. Most of the white supremacists and far-right protesters have left the area. Police announced that they have made 10 arrests so far today.

Update at 1:20 p.m
.: Berkeley police and cops from other jurisdictions have turned their attention to a large contingent of antifa that has shown up at the demonstration. Cops started to put on gas masks, a strong indication they may launch tear gas this afternoon.

Update at 12:45 p.m. East Bay residents are coming out in large numbers today in downtown Berkeley, protesting against hate—much like anti-hate demonstrators did yesterday in San Francisco. By 12:30 p.m., there were 500 to 1,000 anti-hate protesters in the downtown area, compared to only a dozen or two far-right demonstrators and white supremacists.

Berkeley police have attempted to control the crowds and avoid violence by cordoning off Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park with heavy cement barriers. Police are also requiring all demonstrators to pass through a security checkpoint, in which cops are combing through bags and patting down people. The city has banned all sorts of items today, including sticks, clubs, etc.
At about 12:30, there were a few hundred anti-hate demonstrators in the park, with hundreds more on the surrounding streets. Police have been pro-active so far in their attempts to stop fights, physically escorting people out of the park and the area when skirmishes erupt.

Counterprotesters have been assembling in other areas of the city today and many plan to march to downtown. In addition to Berkeley police, members of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, Alameda police, and the California Highway Patrol are on hand. Up to 500 area law enforcement officials are expected to be on hand today.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has been spotted in his City Hall office, looking down on the park and the demonstrators, keeping an eye on the situation.

On Twitter, follow the Express at @EastBayExpress for more updates. Also, we’ll be updating the blog throughout the day.


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