BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — Police are looking for a suspect who assaulted a man publicizing his conservative viewpoints on the campus of University of California, Berkeley in an attack captured on video.
UC Berkeley police said the assault happened on Upper Sproul Plaza Tuesday afternoon around 3:30 pm. The incident was recorded by two Cal students with their cellphones and video of the encounter has since gone viral.
In the video, a man in black is seen shoving Hayden Williams, a volunteer with conservative group Talking Points USA. On his table in Upper Sproul was a sign that read, “Hate Crimes Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims” – a reference to the Jussie Smollett case – and another saying “This is MAGA Country.” After the shoving, two punches were landed by the suspect onto Williams – one soft and one much harder, directly in his face.
Arda Erbil and friend Alexander Szarka were leaving a Portuguese history class when they saw the commotion, “It started off as verbal and it kinda heightened up where he was breaking down posters and taking down a table,” said Erbil. “This is something I’ve never really seen at Sproul. I know there’s a lot of political tension going on, but I’ve never been around for those events.”
Tables promoting different clubs on campus are a daily occurrence at Sproul Plaza. Political combat, however, hasn’t been seen at the Plaza since the Milo Yiannopolous protests and subsequent series of clashes between far right and far left groups over a period of months in 2017.
“The university condemns in the strongest possible terms, violence and harassment of any sort, no matter who the perpetrators are, no matter who the targets are,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of UC Berkeley Public Affairs Dan Mogulof.
The Berkeley College Republicans tweeted a copy of the video Thursday morning, calling it a “leftist” attack.
“One of the few things that holds America together is this idea that we can debate our differences and still remain one country committed to some ideals of free expression and debate and when we see incidences like this that ideal is undermined,” said Rudra Reedy of the Berkeley College Republicans.