BERKELEY—A pair of dueling rallies will be held Saturday, March 15 at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley, and they may very well turn violent.
This follows demonstrations in Berkeley this past February and March that also turned violent. Both events have just over 200 people signed up as going on Facebook.
The pro-Trump “Patriots Day” event is slated to start at noon.
The event has not been permitted according to sfist.
A host of controversial speakers has been lined up for it. The East Bay Express reports that they include “Pizzagate-believer and AltRight.com contributor Brittany Pettibone,” and “Lauren Southern, a Canadian college student and female men’s rights activist, who broke into internet fame for shouting at rape victims.”
AltRight.com was founded by infamous racist Richard Spencer, who is the currently an editor and sits on its board of directors.
Another contributor to the site, Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo, has said he plans to attend the event.
Also among this group of speakers is the so called “based stick man” Kyle Chapman, who gained fame in far-right circles for fighting with antifa (masked, anti-facist) demonstrators in a helmet and mask with a large stick at the event in March. He was arrested, but according to Berkeleyside charges have not yet been filed.
Earlier this week he was arrested again for getting into a fight at Civic Center Park.
“Avowed ‘patriot’ Kyle Chapman, aka ‘Based Stickman,’ was arrested in Berkeley on Monday evening after he reportedly got into a fight with a skateboarder who struck him, as well as a man who brandished a large knife at him, police report,” Berkeleyside reported.
Video shows him marching around Berkeley in a helmet and goggles carrying an American flag. His helmet depicts a skull over crossed assault rifles and “Molon labe” (translated as “come and take them”) in Greek.
He called left wing groups “cocksuckers”, and launches into a rant in which he claimed, “we’re just showing everybody, that it’s time for all of us to take a stand.” He goes on to ask that people show up to the rally Saturday and said, “you afraid of getting a black eye or a couple of stiches into your head, come on man. You afraid of spending a day in jail.”
Several other men were with him, some of whom looked to be carrying sticks.
“It’s gonna be a win for patriots across the world. For freedom loving western men, we’re gonna light a fire in the hearts of these men, and our western warriors are gonna turn out on the streets and start fighting against Islamification of Europe. We’re gonna start fighting against the neo-Marxist stronghold these people have had over our schools, our children, our universities. We’re done with this shit,” he said. “This type of shit, it’s not for our women to do, alright. They weren’t designed for this. This is for men.”
Shortly after this is when the incident leading to Chapman’s arrest occurred.
“In the video, Chapman and several supporters are walking through downtown Berkeley’s Civic Center Park already in a shouting match with half a dozen young men who are following him and telling him to leave the area. ‘You gonna pull out a knife too?’ one man asks him. ‘I don’t wanna see y’all around here again,’ says another young man. Chapman exchanges barbs with a man carrying a skateboard as the groups walk slowly through the park. At a certain point, a young man in sunglasses begins screaming and gesturing at Chapman, and challenging him to fight. Chapman turns around, hesitates, and swings at the man, who falls to the ground. The man with the skateboard then strikes Chapman with his board before the video ends,” Berkelyside reported.
Despite the controversial speakers pro-Trump organizer Rich Black posted on Facebook that the event is not racist.
“I know there are many concerns regarding allegations of the LRA and this event having association with Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, or Workers Party groups. I assure you that we do not have any association with anyone who promotes these radical views or hateful rhetoric,” he wrote. “We have many diverse attendees and speakers at this event, some that may have not made it to public roster but are in fact speaking.”We have many diverse attendees and speakers at this event, some that may have not made it to public roster but are in fact speaking.We have many diverse attendees and speakers at this event, some that may have not made it to public roster but are in fact speaking.We have many diverse attendees and speakers at this event, some that may have not made it to public roster but are in fact speaking.We have many diverse attendees and speakers at this event, some that may have not made it to public roster but are in fact speaking.
Fear of violence at the event has already lead to consequences.
“Citing security concerns over the likely clash between the two groups, The Ecology Center canceled Saturday’s farmers market, leaving approximately forty vendors without a spot to sell their wares,” The East Bay Express reported.
Those organizing the event say they wish for it to be peaceful.
“In videos posted on the event page, organizers from the Liberty Revival Alliance emphasize that they are planning a peaceful rally, even though it comes on the heels of a pro-Trump demonstration in Berkeley this past March, which ended in bloodshed and arrests,” The East Bay Express reported. “As a nod to the backlash from that event, and the widespread protests that broke out when former Breitbart editor Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak in Berkeley the month before, organizers stated that they are prepared to defend themselves.”
Some of the rhetoric on the event’s Facebook page is combative, and suggests that people are coming prepared for a brawl.
Tim Lake said that he would bring “bear mace” to the event on the pro-Trump rally’s Facebook page.
“Nice $50 can. Drop a crowd of people like it was nothing,” he wrote.
Some of the replies to this also expressed a combative attitude.
“Yea I hear bear mace is brutal. We should have people in gear stand in a line in front of unprotected people. Don’t need another old guy on the ground again,” Dumont Rudisel replied.
Terry Myers Jr. posted a meme playing on a line from the film “Gangs of New York”.
“Bricks, bats, axes, knives. No pistols,” it reads.
The post above this authored by Nic Money Paul discusses the attire he will bring to the event.
“I will be there in either my #basedstickman uniform I just ordered on eBay, or if I feel extra extravagant I’m going in Viking armor,” he said in a post depicting a viking helmet, chain mail armor, a helmet, and goggles.
A woman named Elidia Turano inquires if she can attend the event with her pitbull.
“My pitbull is an American and she should be able to go anywhere she wants to and if I am hit by anyone she should be able to protect me… why what are you thinking… we stand together united.. do not make it a bad thing,” she replied to another poster asking her why she would bring her dog.
Others seem to be looking for legal justifications already.
“A stand-your-ground law (sometimes called ‘line in the sand’ or ‘no duty to retreat’ law) is a justification in a criminal case, whereby defendants can ‘stand their ground’ and use force without retreating, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats,” said Mike Cox on the pro-Trump event’s Facebook page.
Some memes on the page depict pepe the frog, a symbol of the far right-wing alt-right movement, and depictions comparing Chapman to a medieval crusader.
Security for the pro-Trump side will be handled by some groups with unsavory reputations.
One, Oath keepers, is characterized by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League as an extremist group. It was involved in the tense standoff at The Bundy Ranch in 2014 and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
“2 Million Bikers (who have posted online they will ‘Protect the 1st Amendment from Thuggery [sic]’) have signed on for security and support,” The East Bay Express reported.
A counter protest called “Defend the Bay! Bloc Party & Cookout” is scheduled to start at 10 a.m..
“The ‘Alt-Right’ is coming back to Berkeley, this time for a ‘Free Speech’ Rally that is bringing violent white supremacists from all over the nation to the Bay Area,” said a press release for the event. “These groups and individuals are not representative of our richly diverse community and we are calling on students, families, people of color, Muslims, trans folks, immigrants, anarchists and everyone else who is endangered by the presence of fascists to unite in celebration of diversity and inclusivity. Join us for a morning of music, speakers, free food and great company to hold space and prevent this fascist and white nationalist rally from happening. Send a clear message that we will Defend the Bay from those who threaten our community.”
The event’s Facebook page advised people to wear a mask.
“Masking up or otherwise concealing your identity helps protect you from the alt-right and the state. There is a risk of the alt-right doxxing individuals for the purposes of online harassment campaigns which can lead to off-line consequences. You also want to assure the state does not identify you so they cannot target you for repression later on,” the page reads.
There isn’t much talk of weaponry on the page, but it does advise people to bring backup.
“Do not come alone! It is crucial to bring your friends so that you can have each other’s backs if something were to go down. Even though our goal is to shut down the pro-Trump rally before it can even happen, there is a pattern of fascists and Trump supporters coming armed to rallies and attacking anti-racists, especially targetting Black, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people,” it says.Masking up or otherwise concealing your identity helps protect you from the alt-right and the state. There is a risk of the alt-right doxxing individuals for the purposes of online harassment campaigns which can lead to off-line consequences. You also want to assure the state does not identify you so they cannot target you for repression later on.
Some of the posters events page do seem to be pretty aggressive as well.
One poster, named Sean Cota Hines posted “Look forward to beating his ass,” in regard to Chapman.
Questions sent to Black, Chapman, and leaders of the anti-Trump demonstration have not yet yielded a response.
My advice to the anti-Trump demonstrators would be not attend the event. I strongly sympathize with their desire to fight racism, hate, and fascism, but attendance at this event is not strategically sound.
Any outcome will be played as a victory on far-right social media. If there is a fight and the pro-Trump side wins, they will likely present themselves as might warriors crushing the opposition and use it to gain recruits. If the pro-Trump side loses the fight, they will likely portray themselves as victims of an oppressive, communist horde, and use it to gain recruits. If anti-Trump protestors attend and there is no fight the pro-Trump side will likely play it as the anti-Trump side was intimidated away from violence, and use it gain recruits.
It would be better to attend the Tax March in San Francisco. This event has nearly 10 thousand people signed up as going on Facebook. It will dwarf the pro-Trump rally’s attendance, and if there is no violence at the event in Berkeley, likely in media coverage as well.
Be careful if you plan to be in the vicinity of the Park on Saturday.
Written By Mathew Foresta