Police have arrested at least 14 people and reportedly deployed tear gas as demonstrators from the Left and Right of the political spectrum held rallies in Berkeley, California.
Most of the suspected offenders were arrested for bringing banned items into the rally zone, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats as saying.
According to the police official, at least one person was injured in a fight.
White smoke was seen on the scene, believed by local media and some eyewitnesses to be tear gas, as the two sides clashed in the university city.
RT’s Ruptly agency’s feed from the scene was abruptly cut off after masked protesters, purportedly members of Antifa, approached the camera and demanded the crew “move that thing.” A brief tussle is then heard before the live feed is lost.
A Ruptly producer, who was heard telling the protesters to back off, reported that the camera was damaged and they had to cancel the feed.
URGENT: White smoke seen as tensions rise in #Berkeley
— RT America (@RT_America) August 27, 2017
Berkeley, which lies eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, had been set to host a “No To Marxism in America” rally of right-wing activists at the Martin Luther King Civic Center Park Sunday.
A counter demonstration, billed as a “Rally Against Hate”, was then established to protest against the right-wing event.
However the organizer of the anti-Marxism rally, Amber Cummings, subsequently cancelled the event saying Berkeley officials and left-wing extremists had made it impossible for the event to go ahead, local TV station KCRA reported.
Cummings urged people to stay away from the park.
3 detentions at #berkeleyprotest just now. @KQEDnewspic.twitter.com/pBCajnAhEp
— Alex Emslie (@SFNewsReporter) August 27, 2017
Bay Area Rally Against Hate begins, hundreds marching from @UCBerkeley to Civic Center Plaza in response to Anti-Marxist rally @kcranewspic.twitter.com/aPXvoCfyrE
— Vicki Gonzalez (@KCRAVicki) August 27, 2017
Despite the cancellation, counter-demonstration organizers decided to proceed with the “Rally Against Hate”.
Large groups of activists showed up at various parts of Berkeley, with more than 1,000 people congregating on Oxford Street alone, the LA Times reports.
Footage from the scene shows huge crowds of counter protesters chanting slogans including “Nazis go home” and “No hate, no fear, Nazis get out of here”.
— ?John Sepulvado? (@JohnLGC) August 27, 2017
A much smaller number of right-wing demonstrators were visible on the streets. Several altercations took place and eight arrests were made, according to KCRA. Three of the arrests were reportedly for violations of the no-mask rule.
A group of activists surrounded a man who was holding a sign reading “God Bless Donald Trump” and chanted: “Not my president.”
A large police presence is present in the city and officers have been quick to clamp down on any skirmishes.
A crowd chanting ‘not my president’ surrounds Marco Gutierrez from Discovery Bay #berkeleyprotestspic.twitter.com/IU0df3Z6h7
— Devin Katayama (@RadioDevin) August 27, 2017