Berkeley police officers intervene during a demonstration at Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in Berkeley, Calif. Sunday, August 27 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Berkeley protesters met with heavy police presence, 14 arrested amid violent clashes

A second day of demonstrations rocked the Bay Area on Sunday when thousands converged on a downtown Berkeley park to protest white supremacy and neo-Nazism.

Turmoil unfolded in the afternoon when demonstrators came together at Civic Center Park to protest the planned “No to Marxism” rally, which was reportedly denied a permit and canceled before the weekend.

The demonstrators, who were banned from bringing items that could be used as weapons to the park, included Black Lives Matter activists and large numbers of black-clad protesters known as anti-Fascists or “Antifa.”

Dozens of masked Antifa protesters have arrived at #Berkeley #MLK Park protest outside the barricades

— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) August 27, 2017

The groups were met with a heavy police presence. Officers surrounded the four corners of the park in crowd-control gear including gas masks and body armor, swooping in to stop clashes.

Police made 14 arrests as of 4 p.m. “for a number of violations” after several fights broke out, according to the Berkeley Police Department.

The demonstrations came a day after rallies spread out across San Francisco to protest a planned rally at Crissy Field from a group called Patriot Prayer, which is known to attract extremists.

In Berkeley, most of the crowd stood nearby as groups of black-clad protesters chased down individuals who apparently espoused right-wing views.

Javier Armas, of Oakland, confronted and chased down a man just before 2 p.m. who he said was wearing a shirt from the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. The man was with a woman, and the couple was seen running to a line of police across from Civic Center Park, who then escorted them into the Berkeley Police Station.

“‘You have an Identity Evropa shirt?,’” Armas said he told the man. “This is Berkeley. This is where we’re from … We’re standing up against the alt-right tooth and nail.”

A large group of protesters wearing black chased another man from the park and surrounded him. The protesters attacked the man, knocked him to the ground and tore his shirt, prompting police to rush the crowd and escort the man away. Officers then dragged the man down the street beyond a nearby police line.

Police did not say how many injuries occurred during the rally.

Police aiming tear gas at antifa crowd after fight breaks out outside #Berkeley MLK park

— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) August 27, 2017

Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson was reportedly at the Berkeley rally. Video from Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting shows protesters swinging and throwing objects at Gibson.

“Fascists go home,” the protesters yelled at him after spraying pepper spray in his direction.

Gibson eventually reached a police line and appeared to be detained.

By 2:30 p.m., the demonstrations fizzled at Civic Center Park, and a group of protesters marched north on Martin Luther King Jr. Way toward Ohlone Park.

Vi Huynh, a Vietnamese immigrant who lives in the Bay Area, marched to Ohlone Park with the demonstrators.

“I just wanted to show solidarity and support for all the people that are being targeted by the white supremacists,” Huynh said. “I wanted to make sure that the people who are out to hurt other people won’t be able to hurt anyone.”

Earlier in the afternoon, police quickly rushed and detained a man blaring bullhorns in their direction.

The man was wearing a motorcycle helmet and all black and appeared to be the same person who wielded the bullhorns against right-wing demonstrators in San Francisco on Saturday.

Just one person was arrested in San Francisco.

The arrest was on suspicion of public intoxication near Alamo Square, where Patriot Prayer attempted to hold an impromptu press conference after canceling the Crissy Field rally.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional quotes and arrest information.
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