More than a dozen people were arrested Saturday after violence broke out Saturday between groups of supporters and detractors of President Donald Trump holding rallies in downtown Berkeley, police said.
Fistfights broke out near Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, where Trump supporters had scheduled a rally. Fireworks and smoke bombs were thrown into the crowd, and a few demonstrators were doused with pepper spray.
Trump supporters were reportedly holding a free speech rally in a downtown park when they were met by opponents of the president and his policies, according to sources.
Both groups threw rocks and sticks at each other and used a large trash bin as a battering ram as the crowd moved around the perimeter of the park. One bank boarded up its ATMs before the rally as a precaution.
Police donned gas masks as they used pepper spray on the crowd. A Berkeley station for BART, the mass transit system, was shut down because of the disturbance, sources said.
Police said they confiscated prohibited items including hand-held flagpoles, a knife, a stun gun, helmets and signs, and flags attached to poles, it said.
Demonstrators have left Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park and are blocking several streets in the city’s center, Berkeley police said.
Berkeley, long a hotbed of political protest, has emerged as a flashpoint in the Trump era.Berkeley is one of America’s most liberal cities, with a long history of left-wing activism. Trump supporters used the city as a setting for a Patriots Day rally Saturday.
For one thing, the city, along with Oakland and San Francisco, has a long-established protest culture. The UC Berkeley campus is famously known as the home of the Free Speech Movement. So when pro-Trump forces decided to rally there, plenty of counter-protesters were at the ready to respond.
Thousands of protesters gathered Saturday in cities across the United States to pressure President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, a move of transparency he has repeatedly refused.
The demonstrations were timed to coincide with the traditional April 15 deadline for annual tax filings, a massive date on the calendar for US households, and resulted in dozens of arrests.
For decades, US presidents and presidential candidates have released their returns voluntarily, although there is no legal obligation to do so. US law requires only the publication of a financial statement that estimates assets, including debt and revenue, but does not give details on the amount of taxes paid.
Trump, a billionaire property tycoon, released a financial statement but has kept his tax returns private, both during the election campaign and since taking office in January.
Trump, who spent the morning at his Florida golf course, avoided several hundred protesters when his motorcade took a circuitous route back to Mar-A-Lago, his Palm Beach, Florida, estate. Protesters marched across the bridge that divides West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, chanting and hoisting signs that read “Don the Con,” “Go back to New York” and “Show your taxes!”
Protesters and political rivals have said he should make a fuller disclosure to remove any inkling of potential conflicts of interest between his business interests and his political decisions.
About 150 protests were held across the county, largely organized by the group TaxMarch.org, whose executive committee includes a former Occupy Wall Street protester.
“The Tax March is a movement gaining momentum around the country to demand transparency and fairness from our commander in chief,” the group says on its website.
Voters may be split on the tax return issue. An April Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll found 53 percent of voters want Trump to release his tax returns, and 51 percent believe his returns are either very or somewhat important to them.