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.