Berkeley Mayor Is Member of Militant Leftist Organization’s Facebook Group

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By Joe Simonson | 4:44 pm, April 21, 2017
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The mayor of Berkeley, California, is a Facebook member of a leftist militant organization that has been linked to violent incidents in the city.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s personal page shows he’s a Facebook member of Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).

According to a 2001 article in the East Bay Express, BAMN, founded in 1995, is “allegedly a front group for an obscure Detroit-based Trotskyist political party called the Revolutionary Workers League.” Even by UC Berkeley standards, students considered the group extreme.

The article in the East Bay Express recounts a number of disturbing incidents showing individuals affiliated with BAMN intimidating local teachers union members and instigating violence throughout Berkeley. One activist familiar with BAMN interviewed in the article describes the group as “like a cult.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

BAMN’s official website describes the organization as “a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action, integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.”

Its statement of principles includes a vow that the group will “employ whatever means are necessary to oppose and defeat…attacks on the democratic and egalitarian aspirations and struggles of our people” and quotes black separatist Malcolm X.

A March 1 post on the group’s site entitled “Confront and Defeat the Trump Movement: COUNTER-PROTEST the Pro-Trump Berkeley Rally” urges members to confront supporters of President Trump and to “bring a hat or something else to cover your head and a bandana in case of tear gas.”

An April 15 Facebook event sponsored by the group calls on members to “join the mobilization to defend against any neo-fascist attacks on our community.” That day there was an outbreak of violence in Berkeley, with clashes between supporters of the president and Antifa members leading to bloodshed and arrests.

Members of BAMN include political activist Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school social studies teacher who was caught on camera assaulting a protester during a demonstration in Sacramento, California, last June.  Arreguin and Felarca are Facebook friends.

Another organizer for BAMN said the group was “happy with the results” after individuals incited a violent riot in Berkeley because of a scheduled talk by Milo Yiannopoulos in February.

According to FBI documents retrieved by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2006, the law-enforcement agency accused BAMN as being involved in “terrorist activities.”  The group has also been involved in a number of anti-police and Black Lives Matter protests in the San Francisco area.

The revelation of Arreguin’s membership comes in the wake of allegations that Berkeley’s police force acts leniently towards leftist organizers. Following the violence on April 15, videos surfaced showing members of the city’s police department refusing to intervene.

A San Francisco native, Arreguin has been involved in Berkeley politics since his graduation from college in 2007.  He was elected mayor in 2016.

Berkeley residents also asked why police did not do more when rioters caused over $100,000 in damage at UC Berkeley back in February. John Bakhit, a lawyer for a local police union said officers “weren’t allowed to do their jobs.”

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