The latest Antifa violence in Berkeley was disgusting. It was anti-American. It was evil. And it was totally preventable, were it not for a left-wing city government that implicitly deputized Antifa in its War on Free Speech.
Yes, the Berkeley, California, city government did nothing to stop the army of more than 100 black-clad, club- and shield-wielding thugs that swarmed Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park Sunday to beat a small gathering of “anti-Marxism” protesters into submission. Antifa broke through police barricades. They pummeled Trump supporters and bystanders to the ground. They intimidated and assaulted journalists.
And the police were under orders to just let it happen.
Antifa beat down apparent alt-righter. pic.twitter.com/WVdDJqLKmA
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) August 27, 2017
It’s like a Renaissance painting of stupid pic.twitter.com/SH6aeU8plt
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) August 29, 2017
A spokeswoman said Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood made a “strategic decision” to avoid potential violence by letting Antifa swarm free and attack people. Greenwood excused the police force’s actions by saying that the “potential use of force became very problematic.” There was no “need for a confrontation over a grass patch,” he added.
This is part of a distressing trend of American law enforcement leaders abdicating their duty to protect the communities they are sworn to serve. The whole purpose of government is to secure the rights of the governed by enforcing the law and stopping lawbreakers. Instead, police in Baltimore, Portland, and, now, Berkeley stood by, permitting vicious thugs to commit criminal acts of violence.
But the failure of the city government to protect the rights of the people goes beyond an order for police to stand down. Berkeley police proactively attempted to strip the “right-wing” demonstrators of their First Amendment rights.
Prior to the Sunday protest, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin characterized the demonstrators as white nationalists and said they were not welcome in Berkeley. Leading up to the weekend protest, the city printed 20,000 leaflets that read “Berkeley stands united against hate.”
The city then denied a permit to the “No to Marxism” activists on the grounds that their presence would create security concerns.
After Antifa mobs used the cover of a “Rally Against Hate” to seek out random people and brand them as “Nazis,” Mayor Arreguin praised the “more than 7,000 people who came out today to peacefully oppose bigotry, hatred and racism.”
It is unclear if any racists showed up in Berkeley on Sunday. What is clear is that Berkeley’s police force was told to stand down as ultra-violent leftists committed brutal assaults. The mayor condemned the violence as “unacceptable” with his words, and yet his actions invited violence against innocent bystanders.
Now that same mayor is calling on the University of California, Berkeley to cancel its “Free Speech Week” (pause here and reflect on the ridiculousness of having just one week for free speech), ostensibly to prevent “these groups using large protests to create mayhem.” Instead of directing police to ensure that black-bloc goons don’t assault people, Mayor Arreguin wants to shut down a free speech event.
Berkeley’s government has taken a side. It is using the power of the state to silence the opposing side and boost the Left.
The city’s conduct leading up to, during, and following the violence is a complete disgrace. Berkeley leaders deemed one group unworthy of protection. Undeserving of freedom of speech. And in permitting Antifa thugs to run past barricades and beat people up, the mayor and police chief essentially deputized the mob to silence unsanctioned ideas and opinions. That not only violates the Constitution, but it assaults the fabric of our civil society.
Who are the real fascists? The “anti-Marxist” protesters? Or the leftists in government who infringe on the constitutional rights of Americans and stand by as violent mobs attack innocents to silence political opposition?
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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