Violent Clashes In Berkeley Were Not ‘Pro-Trump’ Versus ‘Anti-Trump’

Amidst a day of marches for “Tax Day,” many are reporting that pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters clashed. Many news accounts follow the same narrative, that hundreds in attendance of a ‘Patriots Day’ rally began throwing rocks, punches, and sticks at each other. They even used a trash bin as a battering ram. In all, 21 of those involved were arrested and 11 sustained injuries. While no one denies the clash occurred, no one is talking about why it broke out. Many are framing it as anti-trump vs. pro-trump, and failing to see that the actual cause of the tension is white nationalist vs. anti-fascist.

Anti-Semitic signs such as one reading “Da Goyim Know” was carried by one man, who was not alone in his sentiments. Dozens of similar signs were being waved, some veiling their messages with signs that read “Defend America.” Twitter shared many images taken that day featuring flags bearing the alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog and the flag of “Kek,” which is an appropriation of the Nazi Ensign. The “Pastel Bloc”, a Twitter group of anti-fascist street medics stated that they had seen those in the pro-Trump group throwing bagels at protesters and a neo-Nazi who had raised his arm to Heil at the camera and also carrying a flag of Odinism, which is a paganist symbol that was popular mythology to the Nazis. Recruitment fliers for The Proud Boys, a group belonging to the alt-right who carry a philosophy of “Western Chauvinism” were passed around as its members posed with white supremacist group Identity Evropa.

Identity Evropa teaches that ownership of America belongs to those of the white race, and the leader, Nathan Damigo, who has a conviction for pointing a gun at a Muslim cab driver and then robbing him, was at the event. He was even was captured on video punching a woman anti-fascist protester. A Mother Jones reporter, Shane Bauer, tweeted that the far right was holding Berkley down, and posted a picture of demonstrators adorned in far right symbolism. One neo-Nazi, Richard Spencer tweeted a response of “Hail Victory!” Bauer also pointed out that many of the Trump supporters were uncomfortable with the presence of the racist and anti-semitic protestors. These groups were not there to clash with the moderate Trump supporters, but specifically those who claim their status as white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The anti-fascist news site It’s Going Down had prepared a story in advance of the demonstration that covered the known connections that exist between those who had organized the rally and the racist groups who were present. The Liberty Revival Alliance had in a YouTube video called for the event and chose the site location, the MLK Civic Center Park. The group has made claims that it is non-violent, yet at the same time stated it would be prepared to defend any patriots who needed assistance. Their promotional flier listed planned speakers, most of whom have alt-right ties and who have expressed views coinciding with those of white nationalists. contributor Brittany Pettibone is one such example. Tim Treadstone, who has the pseudonym Baked Alaska is another. Treadstone has published questionable anti-semitic tweets in the past and has even been called too neo-Nazi for some on the far right, such as conspiracist Mike Cernovich. It’s Going Down also warned their readers that the event was merely a smokescreen for a new fascist movement. To call this function simply anti-trump versus pro-trump misses so many significant features that deserve closer analysis.

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