BERKELEY (CBS SF) – The mayor of Berkeley is standing by the tactics of his police officers after the past weekend’s brawl-filled pro-Trump march.
Supporters of President Trump gathered Saturday afternoon for the March 4 Trump rally in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park and clashed with counter-protesters.
Police standing nearby did not do much to stop the violence, though 10 people were arrested and seven people were treated for injuries.
KPIX learned the restrained approach was fallout from a past protest.
Pro and anti-Trump demonstrators were caught on camera throwing punches Saturday, but it was the image of Berkeley police officers standing on the sidelines doing nothing that had people asking just how “free” free speech is in Berkeley.
“It was a crying shame that these people were allowed to have at it with each other like that,” said Phoebe Sorgen.
Sorgen is a former Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner. She witnessed the whole melee and spoke with police on the scene.
“They said there weren’t enough of them, but come on,” said Sorgen. “The police had riot gear, they had boots, they had helmets, they had billy clubs.”
But police spokesman Matthai Chakko said it wasn’t that clear cut.
“We had some people who came out for injuries. We treated them for injuries and they went back in,” said Chakko.
Its not the first time police tactics have come in question recently. Last month, UC Berkeley exploded in a violent protest over the scheduled appearance by right wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos as university police stood back.
On the other hand, Berkeley city police were criticized for supposedly overreacting when black lives matter protests turned violent in 2014.
This time, Berkeley’s Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at least no one on the sidelines was hurt.
“I think our police did a very good job under difficult circumstances,” said Arreguin.
City Councilman Kriss Worthington was more critical of the protesters who were intent to cause trouble.
“This crowd was intent on committing violence,” said Worthington. “The anarchists, extremists think that we have a lot of liberal activists that they can hide behind.”
When it was pointed out that the more extreme protesters didn’t appear to be hiding, Worthington replied, “We don’t want to have another reaction like we did with Black Lives Matter where the media, the ministers the students were getting hit by the police.”