BERKELEY (AP) — A rally in Berkeley, California in support of President Donald Trump turned violent and his supporters clashed with counter-protesters in several fights that led to the arrest of 10 people and left at least seven people injured.
People wearing goggles, motorcycle helmets, gas masks or with their face half-covered with bandanas pushed each other, threw punches and hit each other with the sticks holding their signs or American flags. The melees started almost as soon as Trump supporters arrived at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley.
Video of scattered fights showed smoke bombs being thrown at the crowd, a man pepper-spraying a brawling group and paramedics tending to a man bleeding from the head and helping another with cuts on his face.
“This is a sad day,” Berkeley Councilman Ben Bartlett said. “We’re better than this.”
Five people were arrested for battery, four for assault with a deadly weapon and one for resisting arrest, the Berkeley Police Department said.
Officers confiscated a dagger, metal pipes, bats, pieces of lumber and bricks, it added.
Berkeley Police officers in riot gear first stood by the rally that attracted hundreds of pro-Trump supporters and opponents at a park less than a mile from the University of California, Berkeley campus. The department said officer worked to identify suspects and arrest them at the first available opportunity.
“Because of the nature of the crowd, police are not always able to make immediate arrests without inciting further violence or injuring peaceful bystanders,” it said.
Last month, chaos erupted at the university when protesters of an appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos set fires, smashed windows and hurled explosives at police.
“This is the most immature and disgusting display of human interaction,” David Tomes, a pro-Trump marcher draped in a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, told the San Francisco Chronicle. The 49-year-old owns a yoga studio in Petaluma and said he has been targeted for his political beliefs.