Berkeley, CA (PT) – The recently appointed executive director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco chapter has spoken out against what has been described as the deliberate targeting of ‘anti-fascist protesters’ by Police, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper following disturbances in Berkeley, California, the weekend before last. The criticism came after photographs and other personal details of those arrested were posted on Twitter by members of the local Police Department.
Critics of the demonstrators on the now largely discredited Blue Lives Matter website, which recently claimed that its traffic had been severely reduced as a direct result of Facebook’s new rules to combat fake news, were among the most supportive of the Police decision to “name and shame” activists. In an article published by Sandy Malone under the headline “Antifa Whines About Mugshots Being Posted After Months Of Doxxing Conservatives” the website quoted Berkeley PD as saying that “extremists” had thrown explosives at Berkeley police and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies during the course of the disturbances on Sunday 5th August.
However, circumstantial evidence relating to an incident witnessed by filmmaker Ford Fischer, in which so far unidentified elements of the so-called Black Bloc smashed windows of a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office on Shattuck Avenue, could indicate that at least some of the trouble had been caused by agents provocateurs. In an interview with Fox News, after he had posted photos and video of the incident on his Twitter account, Fischer recounted that directly after he had finished filming members of the same group had told him to leave, with the implication that they would physically attack him if he didn’t. One big question that Fox News failed to ask and Ford Fischer has thus far failed to answer, however, is why the so far unidentified group of militants didn’t just confiscate his equipment if they were that concerned about being filmed by him?
According to an article posted on the pjmedia.com website, Fischer told Fox News that he had followed a group of Black Bloc “antifa rioters” after they had broken away from the main body of protesters in the vicinity of Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. He then videotaped the so far unidentified rioters smashing the windows at the Marine Corps recruiting office prior to posting the footage on Twitter. This seems to suggest that those elements from among the protesters who later confronted him could easily have prevented him from publicizing what they had been doing, if only they had sufficient motivation to do so.
Earlier in the year the Guardian reported on the case of Cedric O’Bannon, a coloured citizen journalist attacked and stabbed at a California rally in Sacramento whilst filming neo-Nazi violence against counter-protesters with a GoPro camera. The fact that, instead of being treated like a victim of crime, O’Bannon subsequently became a target of police surveillance appears to add substance to the claims of Jay Kim and others that Police have been deliberately targeting anti-racist demonstrators. In the wake of the Berkeley counter-demonstration Kim was quoted as saying that law enforcement appeared to be taking in protesters “at random… and for arbitrary reasons, in some cases with spurious claims about weapons.”
Kim, a former community lawyer with over ten years of experience defending organized street vendors, representing low-income tenants, and running a foreclosure defense legal clinic, is clearly someone who is accustomed to observing this kind of behavior from the authorities. “It really seemed to us like the Berkeley police department was there to target the anti-fascist protesters.” She said, in what appears to have been a well balanced assessment of the overall situation at street level, based on the testimony of the twenty one or so people who had contacted her organization at the time that she gave the interview. An assessment backed up by former Berkeley police review commissioner and University of California law professor Veena Dubal, who described the situation as ‘”very disturbing.”