The streets of Berkeley, California, became the scene of violent clashes Saturday during a planned “Patriots Day” rally between pro-Trump white supremacists and anti-fascist counter-protesters.
“The alt-right, militiamen, nazis, fascists, Trump supporters ... held a rally in Berkeley and took downtown,” Mother Jones senior editor Shane Bauer said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Street fights broke out all day. The fascists pushed through and took downtown. (Saturday) was their victory.”
In videos and images widely seen across social media over the weekend, overwhelmingly white male Trump supporters could be seen giving Nazi-style salutes and chanting “USA” on Berkeley's streets while openly displaying white nationalist symbols and brandishing weapons such as knives, shields and cans of mace against a multi-ethnic contingent of anti-fascists.
The event, billed as a “Free Speech” rally and organized by an ad-hoc coalition of fascists and libertarians known as the Liberty Revival Alliance, was the third time this year that the city has seen violent confrontations between hard-right forces and leftists intent on shutting them down.
In one of several videos from the Patriot's Day event, prominent neo-Nazi Nathan Damigo is seen running into and sucker-punching a young woman in her face. Damigo — a 30-year-old California State University, Stanislaus student, former felon and organizer of neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa — was thrust into the media spotlight following the election of Donald Trump, who relied throughout his campaign on the support of the so-called "alt-right," described by the Associated Press as a "white nationalist movement."
In the video, an instantly-recognizable Damigo can be seen attacking 20-year-old Louise Rosealma, a member of the Oak Roots anarchist collective. The video went viral over the weekend, leading to calls for Damigo's arrest and his expulsion from CSU Stanislaus.
“After getting hit by Damigo, I was punched and thrown down by two others while they tried to get my skull to land on the rocks in the planter,” Rosealma told teleSUR. “Afterward, another guy held me by the shoulders and kneed me in the face a few times.”
Police, who had issued stern warnings that they would be searching march participants for weapons and patrolling the rally to prevent violence, were nowhere to be found.
Since the attack, Rosealma has faced a coordinated wave of online harassment by the neo-fascists.
“I've received hundreds of messages with death and rape threats,” Rosealma said. “They're releasing malicious memes with photos of me, leaking my personal information and harassing my friends and family on multiple platforms.”
Rosealma has taken the attacks in stride, and sees her experience as a signal for social movements and leftists in the U.S. not to minimize what she calls the “racist genocidal agenda of this spineless meme cult.” According to her, only increased militancy from anti-fascists can counter the deadly threat posed by Damigo and his neo-fascist comrades.
“If I can take anything from this it's that the left needs to learn military tactical organization for street confrontation and to be ready to defend your life. They attacked me with the intent to kill, and chanted to kill Antifa," she said. "I paid the price for being ill-prepared but I have no regrets that I showed up."
"They may have their right to 'free speech,' but they also have to accept the face the consequences of their hateful, violent words," she added. "This fight has just begun."