East Bay officials want to prevent violence, hatred ahead of Sunday rally

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:43PM
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other East Bay elected officials gathered on the steps of Berkeley City Hall Tuesday morning to speak out against bigotry and hate in advance of a rally against Marxism that's scheduled to be held in Berkeley on Sunday.


BERKELEY, Calif. - Standing at the steps in front of Berkeley City Hall, "Anti-Marxist" rally organizer Amber Cummings got into a screaming match with a young man who identifies himself as a member of ANTIFA, a group that's sparred with the far-right before, sometimes with violent consequences.

Cummings screamed at the young man, "You're a terrorist! You're a terrorist!" He shouted back, "If you stand for hate and violence then I will stand against you, one hundred percent!"

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"We're not here to cause violence. We're not here for white supremacy, my God," says Cummings, a transgender woman. "You show me one white supremacist group in this country that would accept a transgender at their rallies."

A few minutes later, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin stood at the top of the steps of city hall, flanked by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and other local representatives for a press conference, a show of unity among elected leaders ahead of Cummings' planned rally Sunday afternoon at Civic Park.

"This is not freedom of speech, this is bigotry, this is racism," says Arreguin, who urged counter-demonstrators to attend various events around the city, but away from the Cummings group at the park.

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"I share with my constituents the need to speak out against bigots and racists as I have my entire life," said Rep. Lee.

Much of the fear is based on previous events downtown and at U.C. Berkeley that have spiraled out of control.

"On Sunday, it shouldn't just be one day to come out and speak against hate," said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. "It should be a day in which we say we repudiate those who come from outside our community, into our community, to disrupt to create havoc."
E. Bay leaders denounce racism ahead of Sunday rally in Berkeley

Cummings clams she is not a Nazi or white supremacist. But Mayor Arreguin says he won't take any chances on Sunday, with a beefed up police presence and new rules that will allow officers to confiscate weapons, both at Civic Park and in other spaces around the city.

"When you come dressed as a soldier with a helmet and a shield and weapons," explained Arreguin. "When you have flagpoles that you've fashioned as a spear or as weapons, you're not interested in free speech per se."

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