Berkeley protest spirals into violence over President Donald Trump

Byby Lonni Rivera KGO logo
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Protesters face off in Berkeley over President Trump
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Protesters on both sides of the debate over President Trump's policies, and the direction the nation is taking faced off in Berkeley today.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A rally planned by supporters of President Trump disintegrated into something resembling a war zone around Civic Center Park in Berkeley Saturday when they faced off with critics of the President.

The scene was similar to one that played out in early march, but this time Berkeley police and neighboring departments beefed up their presence. Police arrested 20 people as the protest with charges including assault with a deadly weapon and several felony assaults.

"We're really against what Trump is doing to our country. Part of what he is doing to our country is what you see right here, he is polarizing it," Berkeley resident and counter-demonstrator Mike Berkowitz said.

"They believe in freedom, they're libertarians, they believe they shouldn't be attacked," Trump supporter Ossian Morris said.

Passionate words escalated to physical fights. One supporter of president trump walked into a crowd of protestors as words, and then blows were exchanged. That man and others ended up in handcuffs.

PHOTOS: Both sides of Trump debate clash

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Protesters are seen gathering in Berkeley, California to demonstrate for and against President Donald Trump on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

"Some say free speech and there is some free speech issues but on the other hand most of them are very antagonistic," one protester said.

Berkeley's city manager just approved an administrative rule banning things used as weapons such as pepper spray, rocks and sticks. But those rules were ignored by some.

By afternoon, police responded to a stabbing on Shattuck Avenue. "I do not have any details but I was told they were transported to the hospital," Byron White with the Berkeley Police Department said.

"I think we have the right to defend ourselves, if they try to attack us. We have the right to freedom of speech," Morris said.

With so much civil unrest, an empathy tent housed a small group offering space for both sides.

"This is our stand for peace, and kind of helping people have a chance to feel heard," Mary Goyer with Culture of Empathy said.

Surprisingly she says both sides say they want safety and for someone to listen, but apparently not willing to listen to each other.

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