BERKELEY (California), Apr 16 (Reuters): A melee erupted on Saturday in a Berkeley, California park where supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump were holding competing rallies, resulting in at least 20 arrests as police struggled to keep the two camps apart.
Meanwhile, At least 20 people were arrested after violence broke out Saturday between groups of supporters and detractors of President Donald Trump holding rallies in downtown Berkeley, authorities said.
About 200 people were at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park when several fights broke out. Dozens of police officers in riot gear standing nearby quickly arrested one man. Others were arrested after several skirmishes.
Trump supporters announced earlier in the week that they were holding a "Patriot Day" at the park at noon that would feature speeches by members of the alt-right, an amorphous fringe movement that uses internet memes, message boards and social media to spread a hodgepodge of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and xenophobia. Counter-demonstrators then said they would hold a rally at the same place at 10 a.m.
Police put in a makeshift barrier of plastic orange poles and orange fence mesh to separate both sides, but that quickly came down as demonstrators started punching and kicking each other, while pepper spray and firecrackers were thrown to the crowd.
As fist fights broke out between the two sides and people threw bottles and cans over a barricade separating them, police resorted to using to an explosive device at one point in a bid to restore order.
Several people were observed by a Reuters reporter with bloodied faces and minor injuries, but there was no official word on casualties from authorities. Media, citing police, reported that at least 11 people were injured.
Police said more arrests could follow
after video shot during the melee was reviewed.
The trouble unfolded when hundreds of Trump opponents staged a counter-rally alongside an event billed as a "Patriots Day" free-speech rally and picnic, organized by mostly Trump supporters.
Between 500 and 1,000 people were in the park as the rallies peaked, according to an estimate by a Reuters reporter.
Among the Trump opponents were some counter-protesters dressed in black and wearing masks. The other side included self-described "patriots" and "nationalists", Trump supporters, free speech advocates, and other groups.
Daryl Tempesta, 52, who said he served in the US Air Force near the end of the Cold War, went to the rally to show his support for Trump.