On August 5, fascist and white supremacist individuals affiliated with the so-called alt right movement held what they called a “March Against Communism” in Berkeley, California. As soon as these plans had been announced weeks before, people from throughout the Bay Area began to mobilize for a counterprotest.
Even before the counterdemonstration had assembled on August 5, the police arrested the driver of a sound truck and drove it off in what can only be called a legalized carjacking. At least three different mobile sound systems were taken by law enforcement prior to a crowd even gathering at Ohlone Park. These were direct actions taken by the police to aid the gathering of white supremacists taking place blocks away at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
To justify the extraordinary measures taken to protect the unpermitted “March Against Communism” organized by Amber Cummings, the City used as an excuse the violence instigated last year by white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys and Rise Above Movement. These are the same groups along with their supporters that attended the “Unite The Right” rally that ended in the killing of Heather Heyer by James Alex Fields Jr.
The Berkeley protest came only one day after a fascist rally in Portland, Oregon, that once again demonstrated the ill intentions of the far right, as well as the collusion of police in protecting the fascists and white supremacists while targeting the anti-fascist counter protestors. In Portland, police seriously injured a counterprotester with a “flash bang” that hit them on the head. Portland PD then allowed the fascists to run rampant around the city where they assaulted people of color. On Aug. 12, another fascist and white supremacist rally is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., dubbed “Unite the Right II” to commemorate the infamous Charlottesville actions exactly one year prior. Numerous anti-racist organizations, including the ANSWER Coalition, have called on people to come out in mass opposition to this disgusting display of bigotry and racism.
As the counterdemonstration started to gather at Ohlone Park in Berkeley, there was a notable police presence surrounding the park on all sides. Police drove back and forth by the park in unmarked minivans with the doors open in attempts to intimidate the growing crowd. However, numbers gradually swelled and speeches were heard from community members. Speakers were united in demanding an end to hate crimes and bigotry as well as structural violence such as police brutality, mass incarceration, deportations and gentrification.
The crowd of over 300 then left Ohlone Park marching to MLK Park. The march was again and again met with lines of militarized riot police as it tried to gain entry to MLK Park where the fascists were gathering.
Despite the larger group’s inability to bypass police lines, the 60 or so racists inside were still met with dozens of counterprotesters who had infiltrated the park and proceeded to engage in heated debates.
Throughout the day and especially at MLK Park, rules were disproportionately enforced on antifascists.
By the end of the day 20 people were arrested, including several anti-fascist demonstrators who did nothing more than possess things that had been arbritrarily placed on a list of prohibited items by the City of Berkeley earlier in the week. Jail support for arrested antifascists lasted until the evening when the last person was released from Santa Rita County Jail. @AbolishICESF is currently collecting donations on VenMo to help pay the coming legal fees.
Further showing the bias of the police towards the fascists, Berkeley PD has been posting on its Twitter feed the mugshots and home addresses of the people arrested at the demonstration, primarily anti-fascist counter protesters who at this time have not been formally charged. This action of “public shaming” is being condemned for endangering anti-fascists, subjecting them to “doxxing” or potential attacks by fascists at their homes.
While happy to mention arrests and show images of City vehicles with broken windshields, the media thus far has been silent about the numerous injuries from concussion grenades euphemistically referred to as “flash bangs” and rubber bullets shot by law enforcement.
Among those hurt included one woman bleeding from a rubber bullet taken directly to the head, while another was left with a large bruise on the upper leg making it difficult to walk. Medics provided those in need with first aid as the crowd turned and continued its march.
Eventually the main counter-demonstration found itself back at Ohlone Park after more than two hours of marching. After returning, there were more speeches by Bay Area organizations emphasizing the need for mass action to confront far-right mobilizations.
As the Alt-Right continues to send agitators around the country, primarily in the form of YouTube live streamers, but also as more traditional white supremacists and Trump supporters, it will remain a necessity to confront their hate with masses of people taking the streets in militant opposition. Only with solidarity amongst all oppressed people can we fight back against the cops and Klan that go hand in hand in terrorizing our communities.