This city is known for its enthusiastic political gatherings and yesterday, Berkeley did not disappoint. On a brief trip downtown we encountered blocked streets and hundreds of police in riot gear. This morning's Chronicle reports what followed better than I ever could.
We slid past the police with sign-carrying protestors. They were heading west to a rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center.
Heading the other way I saw a startled
bridesmaid who had just stepped out of a church.
This man had his sign, along with most of his belongings, inside a shopping cart.
He was nice enough to take it out so I could get a better shot.
Most of the two thousand gathered came to peaceable protest the President's embrace of the alternate right.
Others came to juggle and to
But there were also the Ninja Boys, rabble rousers clad in black and looking for a trouble.
Some call them "anarchists" or the "anti-fascists" but who knows who they were? Their faces were covered despite the police's "no mask" rule.
If they were anti-fascists, why did they later act like fascists who put the brakes on free speech? On Sunday I could tell the Masked Ones enjoyed wearing black, raising hell and the prospect of kicking butt.
Unfortunately they were the tiny minority who made front-page news.
Most attendees had come on Sunday to protest a right-wing "No to Marxism" rally. When the Trumpsters cancelled their event last Friday ("Berkeley's too dangerous!"), liberals like us came anyway to support each other and "the cause".
95% of the people we saw -the rally was spread out over several blocks- were behaving themselves, holding signs, and chanting things like, "Hey hey ho ho, Nazi fascists have to go".
The Terry boys fit right in.
A half-hour into it my sons and I followed one of several roving groups. They walked past a plastic barricade towards a large assemblage of police officers. Suddenly there was an deafening explosion and billowing smoke. The crowd screamed, turned, and ran our way.
We ran too.
Moments later it felt less dangerous as we realized we had not been trampled or tear-gassed.
It had been a smoke bomb intended to turn us back (very effective!).
By then we'd had enough and decided to make our way back to the car. We passed many peaceful people and their clever signs.
We were happy to support the democratic cause and see a bit of Berkeley's street politics.
Hours later learned a few Trump supporters had shown up on the rally's fringes. Their red garb made it easy for the Ninja Boys to spot and wail on them.
It's so unfortunate, another black eye for the liberals. The antifas raise hell but do nothing to promote justice, peace, and 45's imminent impeachment.
The Terry boys had passed safely through this spectacle of free speech and it was time go. The desert was calling and we still need a few more things from Trader Joe's.