Analysis by Reporting San Diego
April 18. 2017 (San Diego) Most of the media has presented a simplistic explanation of what happened in Berkeley. It is a convenient narrative. Anti-Trump people fought Trump people. The other version, a little more complicated, is that this was the Alt.Right fighting the far left. Reporters should know better than to do this. There was quite a depth in who participated in what were pre-planned street brawls. Nor were these brawls coming from one side only. Both were planning for what was dubbed the battle of Berkeley.
Moreover, there is a link to San Diego. One of the participants, Nathan Damigo, leader of Identity Evropa, served in the Marines. His discharge was less than honorable and served time after assaulting and robbing a cab driver in San Diego in 2004. He thought the driver was Iraqi. His ideology of white supremacy was formed in prison while reading David Duke. He once led the National Youth Front, now defunct. That is also a far-right white nationalist group. This is according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It was also his organization who was behind fliers at San Diego State. These fliers and recruiting to Identity Evropa has been done by another former SDSU student. The Daily Aztec has reported on this:
Reinhard Wolff is a member of Identity Evropa and an SDSU alum. Given the controversial nature of his work with the organization, he confirmed “Reinhard Wolff” is a pseudonym, but he was able to provide verification of his previous enrollment at SDSU. He graduated in May 2016 with a degree in social sciences. He says that Identity Evropa is not a white supremacist organization, but one that focuses on and defends white identity in America.
And these stickers have appeared across many universities in the United States.
Damigo is currently enrolled at CSU Stanislaus, and the campus is also looking into the matter. There were also multiple calls for his arrest after the video went viral.
Beyond San Diego, it is important to identify what other groups were present. It was not just neonazis (alt. Right is just a polite way to call them.) there were plenty of militias present. The Three Percenters were there to protect speakers, perhaps intimidate.
The Berkeleyside identified many of these by name. Among them were the Oathkeepers and other militias. These groups can have somewhat different ideologies. They tend to be on the right to far right side of the spectrum. They range from pro constitution organizations who feel the constitution is under attack, the three percenters, to white identity.
They missed, but it near impossible to identify all in a melee like that, Molon Labe, Greek for “come and get them.” It stands for Spartan King Leónidas telling Persian Xerxes to come and get his weapons during the stand of the 300. This group is convinced that they will have to do that with the federal government, when they come to take away their guns. Some are in law enforcement.
Now, to be fair, you also had more mainstream Republicans, who I am sure were not expecting a street brawl. In the stream we saw a couple people using crutches. I doubt they were there for a fight either.
What about the other side? The Antifa, standing for anti-fascist group used blac block tactics, but there were anarchists as well. In fact, i would say most were. I will not call anarchists far left or fringe left. Not after many of them first infiltrated, and them fought with Occupy Oakland (and Oakland PD.) however, like many on the right side, they are anti-government, They are for the destruction of government, any government. In that sense, they are indeed fringe
They follow a doctrine of an extreme turn of the 20th century Russian Party that took the views of Mikhail Bakunin to the ideological limit. They approved nothing of the established social order. You could have called them left at one time. But even then, they were against everybody. It did not matter if they were democrats, monarchists, conservatives, or liberals. All were wrong and should be destroyed, and replaced with something. That something is not entirely clear. It never has been entirely clear.
Yes, there were some moderate center left people manning an empathy tent, and hardly there for a street brawl.
This is not the first time we have street brawls in the United States. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century we had them. Pinkertons, or police or both on one side and labor was one of the common set of combatants. We also had race riots, in which whites burned minority communities, many of which included lynching.
The reasons for those riots will be familiar, since we have heard this in the here and now. Some of the participants at Berkeley believe in the separation of the races, and that diversity is dangerous. According to the Atlanta Black Star the 1906 riot was encouraged because:
Hoke Smith was a former publisher of the Atlanta Journal and Clark Howell was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Both candidates used their influence to incite white voters and help spread the fear that whites may not be able to maintain the current social order.
What happened in Atlanta in 1906 was one of many examples. Until the 1960s a race riot meant a white riot.
Berkeley is a symbol. It is the heart of liberal progressive politics. It is the home of the free speech movement. It also is smack dab in the middle of one of the most progressive, and wealthy areas in not just California, but the United States. Many of the participants in Antifa are mostly young white men from Berkeley, San Jose and San Francisco.
Nobody will take the town, physically that is. But the symbol of controlling the city center for a few hours is what this was about. As far as street brawls, it was a street battle. However, fortunately, there was no property destroyed, as in the past. People did go to the hospital, with concussions. And there were arrests, on both sides.
Then there is the question, where was Berkeley PD? For the most part they sat on the sidelines. If you read the people on Twitter from the right, it was because the city government was in favor of Antifa, and those damn communists (there were no communists). However, if you read Antifa, well the police favored the fascist interlopers. Both cannot be true, so we would like to offer an alternate explanation. The police are using video to execute arrests later on, and build cases. Whether that was a good choice or not, is a good question.
There is another critical point. There were many tax day demonstrations across the country. Only one turned violent. There is danger in this, but that lessens when one realizes that the people on the right side brought people in from outside California in some cases. The other side is mostly local, and we all hope will remain in the Bay Area. Could this street level violence happen at other places? Yes. And that violence can be used to crack down on civil rights.