‘No Hate, No Fear’: Large Protests in Berkeley Against Far-Right Rally

A counterdemonstration against a far-right rally gathers near UC Berkeley on Aug. 27, 2017. (Sheraz Sadiq/KQED)

Updated Sunday Aug. 27 at 4:10 p.m.

More than 3,000 people marched through the streets of Berkeley on Sunday, toting signs reading “Not in our town,” playing music and chanting “No hate, no fear,” to protest plans for a far-right rally that was scrapped by the organizer before it began.

The festive but defiant crowd was mostly peaceful until the early afternoon, when skirmishes broke out between black-clad anti-fascist protesters and a few far-right supporters at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, where marchers had gathered. Thirteen people were arrested and two taken to the hospital, said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

People hit the streets to protest the “No to Marxism in America” rally planned for MLK Civic Center Park — though its organizer asked supporters late Saturday not to show up. The rally had been expected to draw white supremacist and nationalist groups, but only a few far-right supporters turned out.

Many police, donned in riot gear and gas masks, were on hand to deal with the crowd when the antifa and members of far-right Patriot Prayer showed up.  At one point, hundreds of protesters pushed past barricades and occupied the park at about 1:30 p.m. as police watched. Video footage shows Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, who had attempted to hold a far-right rally in San Francisco on Saturday, being chased from the park.

The violence was short-lived. The Rev. Ben McBride of Berkeley led protesters in a chant of “victory” after taking over the park and expelling the small number of far-right supporters.

“When people want to hide that kind of white supremacy under the guise of free speech and political persuasion, we see it as our duty to make it very clear that we resist that kind of racist ideology, and we’re going to continue to protect people that migrated from the South to have that kind of freedom and protection here in the Bay Area,” McBride said.


Comedian W. Kamau Bell also spoke, saying: “Bye Nazis.”

“You have to stand up for the black people, for the brown people, for the LGBT people, for the immigrants, for everybody, every day,” Bell told the crowd.

Bert Johnson on Twitter

@wkamaubell: “Bye Nazis!” @KQEDnews https://t.co/MW2VJXzfrn

At an earlier protest nearby at UC Berkeley’s Crescent Lawn, campus police searched bags while people delivered speeches condemning racism and hatred. Police earlier barricaded MLK Civic Center Park and were checking bags to allow people in.

Many parts of Berkeley were filled with people protesting the far right. At the corner of Center and Oxford streets, people chanted, “No hate, no fear, Nazis get out of here,” and “When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

Ben Stern, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor, marched with protesters.

“It is united that we can defeat hate, racism,” Stern said. “It’s only when we will defeat those forces that we will have peace in this great country of ours.”

Demonstrators hold signs at Oxford and Center streets in Berkeley on Aug. 27, 2017. (Sheraz Sadiq/KQED)

John Sepulvado on Twitter

John Sepulvado on Twitter

https://t.co/AFXrhuogcT

Protesters had earlier surrounded a man at the Civic Center Park holding a sign reading “God Bless Donald Trump” and chanted “Not my president.”

A number of law enforcement agencies were deployed in Berkeley, including the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.

The protests come a day after thousands turned out to demonstrate against a far-right rally organized by Patriot Prayer’s Gibson in San Francisco that was twice relocated and then canceled before it began.

Gibson first canceled his rally at Crissy Field, citing various restrictions placed on his group by the National Park Service and law enforcement agencies. He moved it to Alamo Square Park but scrapped that, too, later holding a press conference in Pacifica.

KQED’s Alex Emslie, Devin Katayama, Bert Johnson, Julie Small, John Sepulvado and Eli Wirtschafter contributed to this post.

‘No Hate, No Fear’: Large Protests in Berkeley Against Far-Right Rally 28 August,2017Miranda Leitsinger

  • taxedmore

    No hate? Those clowns hate anybody who does not totally agree with them on all subjects.

    • David Reinertson

      There were about a hundred organizations endorsing the anti hate rally. They have lots of areas of disagreement without hating each other. The Berkeley police policy is to tolerate protest, but arrest the violent. Last I heard, there were about ten arrests in protests involving many thousands.

      • Nancy Taylor

        The right wing groups have areas of disagreement as well but they are all lumped into one group of “haters” which isn’t necessarily true – I don’t even know what their messages really are because the left-fringe make sure their free speech is trampled and drowned without their ever getting it out. If you’re going to give your side the benefit of the doubt even when they are agitators, you might try giving the other side the same benefit. These are mostly angry young men and instead of feeding their fire, maybe the approach would be the love and “no hate” that you profess to find out what their beefs are and have a conversation.

        • sister_h

          If you go to the Patriot Prayer FB page you can watch the video of Joey Gibson supposedly saying what he’s all about. He doesn’t say anything meaningful. He says they’re for freedom and love (like a lot of people.) A lot of the comments note that they still don’t know what he stands for. They have every chance to say what they stand for and why they support Trump. Why aren’t they answering questions about their beliefs when journalists ask them? Why are they not writing op-eds explaining their views? Hint: the alt-right (soft-core white supremacy) seeks to attract people who are right wing and not too politically experienced and recruit them for the white supremacists and white nationalists. They hope to capitalize on weak understanding of freedom of speech. For example, some right wingers seem to think that their freedom of speech requires other people to listen to them politely. It’s not true. Other people have freedom of speech, too. That’s the challenge in a democracy. How do you win people over without requiring them to shut up? I’m against white supremacy and white nationalism and my freedom of speech allows me to say “F%$k you!” to white nationalists.

          • Antiliar

            You leave out the part where Joey Gibson specifically says he’s against white supremacy and is of Japanese descent. Something else you left out is the part where the Southern Poverty Law Center “reported that at the most recent Patriot Prayer
            event, Gibson shouted from the stage “F*** white supremacists! F***
            neo-Nazis!”” So what you did by falsely labeling him a white supremacist is slander.

            Here is a link to a news report and interview: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/23/whos-behind-this-weekends-right-wing-rally-at-crissy-field/

  • Nancy Taylor

    I agree with no hate but I don’t agree that the fringe-left should be able to in effect shut down the free speech of these groups (whatever the message) by bombarding them with left-wing hate (I’m not fooled by their signs that say “no hate” while they pepper spray, attack and fling poop at the people they disagree with). Maybe ignoring these groups when they come to town would be a much more effective message to them, instead of gang blasting them and giving them huge media attention.

    • sister_h

      The counter protesters who oppose fascists and white supremacists have free speech rights, too. Don’t forget that. Don’t get all into defending ONLY the free speech rights of right white jerks. A lot of people seem to think that the 1st amendment guarantees them respect from other people. It doesn’t. You have to win it some other way. Clearly, the majority of the people in the Bay Area are against white supremacy, against Nazism, against the extreme right and the soft white supremacy of the alt-right. There is no first amendment “affirmative action” for right wingers.

      • Antiliar

        The “counter protesters” are fascists. They want to make sure anyone who disagrees with them gets labeled a “fascist” and a “hater.” While you defend their free speech rights, they make sure that anyone who disagrees with them gets punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed, hit with rocks, beaten with sticks and batons, or bashed in the head with a sock full of locks. They also attack journalists, photographers and police officers. They have attacked innocent bystanders and observers. Don’t forget that’s who you’re defending.

  • WIWR

    I love the slight of hand interview by John sepulvda with the interview of the antifa member.

    No challenging questions about the violent attacks to journalists. No challenge to acts of property damage. No question of the violence at the police station.

    I can only assume that NPR does not have an issue about violence, anti free speech if it come by anyone not a conservative or from the right.

Author

Miranda Leitsinger

Miranda Leitsinger has worked in journalism as a reporter and editor since 2000, including seven years at The Associated Press in locales such as Cambodia and Puerto Rico, four years at NBC News Digital in New York and 2.5 years at CNN.com International in Hong Kong. Major stories she has covered included the aftermath of the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis, the initial military hearings at Guantanamo, the Aurora movie theater attack, the Newtown school shooting, Superstorm Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing. Reach her at mleitsinger@kqed.org or https://www.facebook.com/mirandasleitsinger/

Author

Don Clyde

Don Clyde is an online producer, reporter and copy editor for KQED News. Before venturing into journalism, he worked as a medical device engineer and scientist for nearly a decade after earning a degree in physics from UC Berkeley. He loves travel, reading, living in Oakland, and most importantly, a good walk. Email him at dclyde@kqed.org or follow him @clydedon.

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