The anarchist leftist group Antifa says it wants to “push back against fascism”—but judging by the street brawl in Berkeley this past weekend it’s more than willing to use fascist tactics against political opponents.
The protests against Donald Trump this past weekend didn’t only involve violence between Antifa and members of the alt-right. In Berkeley, some Antifa members assaulted observers, according to commenters on Reddit who said they were at the scene.
Several threads have cropped up on Reddit to condemn the anarchists, one of which even called for Mayor Jesse Arreguin to resign for failing to handle the protests. They argued that the anarchists’ presence at the protests caused violence to spiral out of control.
On Reddit’s r/Berkeley community, one user who said he/she attended the protest described an assault and robbery of a bystander by masked Antifa members.
Around 3:00 pm, when the riots had moved up to shattuck, a bystander with a camera was assaulted by a group of Antifa. One of the women started screaming at him for recording the riot ‘without her consent.’ He was called a Nazi, a rapist and a Trump supporter. He told the woman he hated Trump, had voted for both Bernie and Jill Stein, but she wouldn’t stop calling him a Nazi.
Meanwhile, a masked guy snuck up behind him, grabbed everything in his pocket and ran off. The guy was like ‘oh gee, thanks you guys. I lost my fucking house key and now I won’t be able to go home’” The girl was like ‘well some people don’t even have fucking homes!!!’ (this made me cringe so hard).
Others in the thread weighed in with experiences of their own.
“Someone from the black bloc cracked a bottle over my homie’s head,” wrote user SleepyChino. “Full fledged Bernie and NoDAPL guy. Required 7 stitches. Cuz he was recording. Shit is ridiculous. He was even wearing a Palestinian scarf, and is Chicano.”
“These people literally think everyone disagreeing is a fucking nazi and and a rapist, and that it justifies physically assaulting them,” wrote continentalzs in response to a user who suggested that their behavior was simply a result of mob mentality. “I witnessed several people being accused of being rapists for not asking for the ‘consent’ of the people they were filming.”
Other attendees wrote about how they were tear-gassed with the M-80 canisters that the anarchists came equipped with.