BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Protests in Berkeley have ended as crowds dissipated and police defended how they handled security at the rally.
Berkeley Protests photo Photo: Pete Rosos / Twitter
Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood says police made a strategic decision to let a group of more than 100 black-clad anarchists enter the park Sunday once it became clear there would not be dueling protests between right and left.
He said "the potential use of force became very problematic" because thousands of mostly peaceful left-wing protesters were already inside the park.
Greenwood said he decided to let the black-clad protesters demonstrate in the park because there was "no need for a confrontation over a grass patch."
Several of the anarchists beat at least five protesters perceived to be political conservatives.
He said officers arrested 13 people at the rally.
It was not immediately clear if anarchists were among those arrested.
Black-clad anarchists at a protest in Berkeley have attacked at least five people including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event the day before in San Francisco amid fears violence would break out.
The protesters who wore hoods to conceal their identities chased Patriot Prayer group leader Joey Gibson from Sunday's rally in a Berkeley park. As Gibson backed away with his hands in the air, the protesters pepper sprayed him.
Gibson then went behind a line of police wearing riot gear.
Gibson has denounced racism and says he launched Patriot Prayer after several supporters of President Donald Trump were beaten at a Trump campaign stop in San Jose, California last year.
Separately, the anarchist group beat, kicked and punched four other people at the rally.
The assaults were witnessed by an Associated Press reporter.
More than 100 protesters dressed in black have pushed their way past police barricades and into a Berkeley park.
They assaulted at least three people by punching and kicking them.
At least one of those attacked was a right-wing male protester who showed up for a "Rally Against Hate" event where anti-rally protesters vastly outnumbered the rally's supporters.
Police broke up the fights, using what appeared to be a smoke grenade to stop one scuffle.
The three people who were attacked ran behind police lines to escape.
The black clad protesters carried a large banner that identified them as anarchists.
Police have helped right-wing protesters attending a "Rally Against Hate" out of a park after they were surrounded and pushed by counter protesters.
The skirmish broke out at the Berkeley protest between several dozen left-wing demonstrators and a handful of right-wing supporters.
The skirmish was tense but ended quickly.
The left-wing protesters surrounded the small number of right-wing supporters, then shouted at them and pushed them. The right-wing protesters sought protection from police and were escorted away.
Several people were arrested at Berkeley's Civic Center Park by police who have banned protesters from covering their faces and carrying a variety of items that could be used as weapons.
About 2,000 people gathered in what was billed as a "Rally Against Hate." Opponents of the rally far outnumbered supporters.
Several hundred people protesting against a right-wing rally have gathered at a park in downtown Berkeley under tight police security.
Supporters of President Donald Trump were largely outnumbered Sunday by counter protesters but peacefully debating with the growing crowd at Civic Center Park.
A right-wing group had called off a rally to be held at the park, fearing violence. But some supporters turned up anyway.
Police were checking bags of those entering the park and had erected barricades around the park as part of tight security measures to prevent violence.
Police have set up barricades in a downtown Berkeley park in preparation for possible demonstrations by right-wing and left-wing groups.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that police with bomb-sniffing dogs checked the grounds of Civic Center Park early Sunday.
A right-wing rally billed as "No To Marxism in America" was initially called for Sunday afternoon but then canceled over the weekend.
Organizer Amber Cummings said that Berkeley officials and left-wing extremists made it impossible to hold the event and she would be the sole attendee.
It was not clear if supporters or opponents would show up.
The left-wing group By Any Means Necessary had vowed to shut down the rally at Civic Center Park.
It has been involved in violent confrontations,
Organizers of a protest billed as the Bay Area Rally Against Hate say the event will go on as planned at the UC Berkeley campus.
The event is one of several rallies that had been called for Sunday in Berkeley, a day after a controversial freedom rally planned by right-wing groups in San Francisco fizzled amid throngs of counter protesters.
In a statement early Sunday, organizers of the Rally Against Hate said "we fully intend to move forward with this rally" on the university campus despite calls by the university police department for people to stay away for safety reasons.
Berkeley authorities are preparing for potential clashes at a city park even though the person behind a right-wing rally called off the event.
It was not immediately clear who might show up for the right-wing event called, "No To Marxism in America" in a downtown Berkeley park.
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