Berkeley Police Department faces criticism for lack of intervention at Trump rally

Aslesha Kumar/File

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The “March 4 Trump” rally that occurred in Berkeley on Saturday ended with some demonstrators concluding that the Berkeley Police Department did not take enough measures to prevent the violence that ensued.

The crowd of 300 people that attended the rally was composed of both Trump supporters and activists, including members of national activist group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN. More than 30 BPD officers monitored the event, and at least 10 people were arrested.

In a report addressed to Berkeley City Council members, interim Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said protesters and counter-protesters started in separate groups but converged into one large group as the crowd grew. Multiple assaults broke out between the crowd throughout the event, according to Greenwood.

“Based on the location and duration of the altercations, it was frequently difficult for officers on the ground to identify primary aggressor suspects and victims,” Greenwood said in the report.

Rich Black, a “March 4 Trump” organizer, said it was clear to the pro-Trump protesters that the march would be peaceful. The police had assured them that they would be escorted during the march.

“I guess what they call an escort is them standing there watching us get our asses kicked. They didn’t engage. BAMN started breaking us up, so some people started going different ways and got confused,” Black said.

There were reports of the use of bats, bricks and metal pipes, which were confiscated by BPD. Many on both sides of the rally were also armed with weapons, shields, pepper spray and smoke canisters. In the report, Greenwood emphasized how difficult it is to intervene with intermixed groups of eager, armed participants, because of the likelihood of harming those who have not committed a crime.

“I saw (the police) looking at me and begged them to get involved,” Black said. “I had all my men stand down and take a knee while these SWAT fuckers were just standing there looking at us, making every excuse in the book.”

Michael Ross, who attended the rally with a neutral political stance, said the most frustrating thing for him was what he referred to as the lack of professionalism on the part of the police. Somebody was allegedly beat up and thrown into traffic 15 feet from the police and, according to Ross, the police did not respond. Ross alleged that there was a lack of medical assistance and that more ambulances should have been present to assist the injured.

“I’ve seen a lot of these kind of events. The reality is Berkeley police should have been more prepared. The Milo thing should’ve taught them that they need to be prepared,” Ross said.

Contact Carina Zhao at [email protected].

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  • Austin Garrett

    I applaud the police for not making a bad situation worse. Adding a third group into the mix is the best way to piss everyone off even more.

  • Ken McClelland

    This video is all you need to see to realize that a stand down order was issued by someone at the top, and I hope lawsuits are filed and perhaps even an investigation by the feds to get to the bottom of it, because clearly, protect and serve was not happening with this department…

  • C Bierbauer78

    For once the BPD got it right. To intervene between those two bickering groups would either get the police attacked from each side or attacked by both sides together. Would you wade into a melee where you had to watch every side at once?

    • Ken McClelland

      or perhaps their presence would’ve avoided the whole thing.

      • C Bierbauer78

        You know nothing of the BPD.

        • Ken McClelland

          thank you cbierbauer78, but after seeing you slam the cops not more than a week ago, saying that they’re “…Keystone Kops except when abusing innocent civilians, stealing drugs and cash from evidence lockers and harassing journalists in the earliest morning hours.” & “The cops are too stupid to know which side the rumblers were on.” it appears that you just like argue, and I’m guessing that you’re probably a pacifier sucking Berkeley Alumnus. generally speaking, it’s the bleeding heart liberal democrats who like to consider themselves kind and gentle pacifists, with a snowflake like quality, who will be assaulting people or throwing flaming projectiles at people or other people’s property. and now you know… you may want to write that down in case you get confused next time you’re in such a melee and forget which side is which. perhaps you should wear name tags. :-)

  • Left Unsaid

    BPD and UC cops wouldn’t intervene when conservatives were physically attacked. Situational law enforcement prioritizes protecting liberal progressives. If conservatives get violently attacked, BPD and UC cops fig they had it coming.

    #DeathOfDissent #ProgressiveStalinism #CalShame

  • NoiseMachine

    Police couldn’t determine who the initial agitators were? Really?

    • NoiseMachine

      And how is that an excuse not to stop violence once it erupts?

  • ShadrachSmith

    The current round of legislation — introduced by Republican lawmakers in 19 states — attempts to criminalize and penalize protesting in various ways. Many states are drafting bills to increase fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic (Minnesota, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Iowa), tampering with or trespassing on infrastructure such as railways and pipelines (Colorado, Oklahoma), picketing (Michigan, Arkansas), wearing masks (Missouri), or refusing to leave an “unlawful protest” (Virginia). Particularly alarming are bills removing liability from drivers who “accidentally” hit and kill protesters (North Dakota, Tennessee, Florida). A bill in Indiana initially instructed police to clear protesters from highways by “any means necessary.” Other legislation has proposed labeling protests as “economic terrorism” (Washington, North Carolina), charging costs of policing to protesters and organizers (Minnesota), allowing businesses to sue individuals protesting them (Michigan, Colorado), and using anti-racketeering laws to seize assets of protesters (Arizona). A bill in Oregon would require public community colleges to expel students convicted of participating in a “violent riot.”

  • Douglas Bonham

    A star is born. #Based Stickman.