Tensions rise between Refuse Fascism protesters, Trump supporters on Sproul Plaza

Lianne Frick/Senior Staff

Related Posts

Refuse Fascism protesters and Trump supporters assembled Wednesday afternoon on Sproul Plaza for largely peaceful protests in the wake of UC Berkeley’s now-canceled “Free Speech Week.”

A crowd of about 30 people gathered about noon to hear the Refuse Fascism speakers on the steps of Sproul Hall. They were soon joined by Trump supporters, who began to chant, “U.S.A.” while the Refuse Fascism speakers chanted, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.”

At the height of demonstrations, about 100 people were on Sproul. One of the protesters chanting with the Trump supporters, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, described himself as a patriot expressing his opinion.

“I’m standing with fellow patriots who don’t want to see America burn to the ground,” Toese said.

Several students complained about the heavy police presence, including Mona Dibas, a campus junior transfer student who called the police presence an expensive “police state.”

“It’s disgusting how much police we have on campus right now,” said campus sophomore Hayden Modisett. “They are intimidating students and disrupting classes. They come from far away, are inexperienced with protests, and are getting paid to stand. … The students have a right to protest.”

Six Trump supporters linked arms on the steps of Sproul Plaza above the Refuse Fascism demonstrators on the steps below. One of the protesters, Ashton Whitty, a campus junior and member of the Berkeley College Republicans, described what she felt was a lack of tolerance for conservative ideas in the campus community.

“I came out as a Republican when I was 13. I came out last year to my liberal family. My family barely talks to me anymore,” Whitty said. “The fact that I can’t speak on this campus, in this city … in America without being doxxed, threatened or attacked is absolutely insane. I am an American. I have the right to speak.”

Angelie Castalina, a campus sophomore and BCR member who also linked arms with Whitty, said she had been threatened, stalked and harassed because of her views.

Student protestors also surrounded a group of Black students in front of Golden Bear Cafe who were participating in Black Wednesday, a weekly event for Black students to gather and dance together, to “protect students from intimidation from the ‘alt-right,’ ” according to a campus junior protester Jacqueline, who did not want her last name included for fear of related violence.

Controversial conservative activist Kyle Chapman, or “Based Stickman,” also attended the protests. According to Chapman, people cannot wear Trump hats in Berkeley without fear of violence.

Chapman added that he came to Sproul to support free speech against the “violent suppression of right-wing thought today.” Protests de-escalated about 2 p.m.

“This is madness over speech, words that cannot inflict harm,” Chapman said. “(Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro) are not that provocative.” 

Contact Jack Austin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JackAustinDC.