Berkeley Demonstrations: ’Antifa’ Violence Prompts Soul Searching in Left-Wing Activist Community

Of the dozens of organizations that turned out for Sunday’s mass protest against racism here, one group was impossible to miss.

Demonstrators beat a man Sunday at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Demonstrators beat a man Sunday at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Its members dressed head to toe in black, with masked faces and some bearing pastel-painted riot shields that read “no hate.” These 100 or so militants billed themselves as a security force for progressive counter-protesters, vowing to protect them from far-right agitators.

But as the protest got underway, some of those in masks would resort to mob violence, attacking a small showing of supporters of President Trump and others they accused, sometimes inaccurately, of being white supremacists or Nazis.

The graphic videos of those attacks have spurred soul-searching within the leftist activist movement in the Bay Area and beyond. Emotions remain raw in the wake of this month’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., which left one woman dead and dozens injured.

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