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Berkeley police arrest more than a dozen during demonstrations

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A man shouds at a line of riot police as tensions grow during a protest between conservative demonstrators and left-wing opponents held at MLK Civic Center Park in Berkeley, Calif. Sunday, August 27 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Berkeley police on Sunday arrested at least 17 individuals on suspicion of various charges including battery during rallies put on by conservative demonstrators and left-wing protesters in the downtown area.

Berkeley police confirmed the arrests on Twitter as several planned demonstrations including the competing “No to Marxism in America” and “Stop the Hate” rallies reportedly drew crowds to Civic Center Park and Ohlone Park in the afternoon. Protesters marched around the city and allegedly threw fireworks, according to police.

The city has often become the site of clashes between far-right Trump supporters and anti-fascist protesters over the last 18 months, prompting authorities to ban protesters from carrying a range of items that could be used as weapons in areas including Ohlone and Civic Center parks.

By noon, police had already arrested three people in or near Ohlone Park and confiscated numerous weapons from protesters including a hammer, sticks and poles.

Berkeley police identified those arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned or dangerous weapon as Jason Wallach, 49, of Oakland, Kate Brenner, 69, of Oakland and Kristin Edith Koster, 50, of Berkeley.

By 2:14 p.m., police had identified others arrested as Freddy Martinez, 31, of Berkeley, David Siegfried Chou, 26, of Santa Cruz, Sarena Lynette Perez, 39, of Oakland, Blake Griffith, 29, of Oakland, Thomas Parker, 22, of Berkeley, Maria Lewis, 29, of Emeryville and Ericka Sokolower-Shain, 28, of Berkeley.

While Martinez was booked on suspicion of battery and Griffith was booked on suspicion of vandalism, the others were arrested for allegedly carrying a banned weapon, working with others to commit a crime or both.

Police later confirmed the arrests of Jamie Louise Hill, 30, of Emeryville, Javier Cruz O’Connell, 22, of Berkeley, Bella Podolsky, 27, of San Francisco and Caitlyn Boyle, 27, of Oakland for allegedly carrying a banned weapon or working with others to commit a crime.

“Our investigation won’t end today,” police said on Twitter, calling on the public to submit photos and videos from the demonstrations. “We will continue to pursue leads for anyone who commits a crime.”

City officials had warned demonstrators to avoid violence in advance of the rallies.

“Don’t get baited by provocateurs,” Matthai Chakko, a city spokesperson, said in a statement. “The best way to deny them the attention they seek is to not engage and avoid such events entirely.”

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

This post has been updated to include additional information.

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