BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The suspect in a brutal attack on a conservative activist on the University of California, Berkeley campus last month has been charged with two counts of felony assault, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged Zachary Greenberg with two counts of felony assault, one count of committing a verbal threat and a misdemeanor vandalism charge.

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Zachary Greenberg (Alameda County Sheriff’s Office)

A man punches another man at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.

A man punches another man at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus. (Arda Erbil)

Greenberg was identified as one of two men who confronted a conservative activist who had set up a table in Sproul Plaza. Hayden Williams, volunteer with conservative group Turning Points USA was displaying signs that read, “Hate Crimes Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims” – a reference to the Jussie Smollett case – and another saying “This is MAGA Country.”

UC police said when the two men approached him, an argument started and a physical confrontation ensued when one of the two men slapped the phone out of the victim’s hand.

Police said the suspect, later identified as Greenberg, then knocked over the table Williams was at and the two men struggled over the phone.

The suspect was seen on video landing two punches on Williams – one a glancing blow and another much harder directly on his face, causing injuries to his nose and left eye.

UC Berkeley police released this photo of a man suspected of injuring a student Tuesday afternoon in Sproul Plaza.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ issued a statement after the incident, saying, “That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here.”

Videos of the incident went viral after being shared by conservative groups who alleged that the assault was a leftist attack on students’ free speech.

However, UC Berkeley has said Williams and Greenberg aren’t students at the school.

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President Donald Trump took note of the incident and brought Williams onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday and encouraged him to sue UC Berkeley and the state of California.

UC Berkeley issued a statement on Sunday saying that much of the reporting and commentary on the case is “willfully distorted and inaccurate.”

The university said critics who alleged that the delay in arresting and charging Greenberg was due to the imputed political beliefs of the campus administration “willfully impugned the integrity and independence of the excellent officers of the UC police, who seek to uphold the law regardless of who the perpetrators are, or what they happen to believe in.”

UC Berkeley also said allegations that it doesn’t support free speech for all of its students, regardless of their perspectives, are “absurd” and “have no basis in fact.”

The university said that in the last year alone it has spent more than $4 million “to ensure that our conservative students could safely and successfully hold events on campus and invite speakers of their choice to these events.”

UC Berkeley said, “Our commitment to freedom of speech and belief is unwavering and no amount of incomplete, distorted news coverage is going to change that.”

 

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