Tuesday 27 June 2017

Violence flares between anti- and pro-Trump factions

Anti and pro-Donald Trump supporters clash during competing demonstrations in Berkeley, California. Photo: Anda Chu/San Jose Mercury News via AP
Anti and pro-Donald Trump supporters clash during competing demonstrations in Berkeley, California. Photo: Anda Chu/San Jose Mercury News via AP

Noel Radewich

US President Donald Trump has said "someone should look into who paid" for the rallies around the US on Saturday that urged him to release his tax returns.

Mr Trump tweeted yesterday: "I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?"

Mr Trump was the first major-party nominee in more than 40 years not to release his returns and he reneged on a campaign commitment to release them. He said they were being audited.

"Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over," he tweeted.

A melee erupted on Saturday in a park in Berkeley, California, where supporters and opponents of Mr Trump were holding competing rallies, resulting in at least 20 arrests. 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.

"As a veteran, I like the track America is on, and that Trump is willing to stand and say we are still America and we are not going to be globalist, we're not going to be a communist country," Mr Tempesta said. "That's a message I can get behind."

A weekly farmers market was cancelled ahead of the rally due to concerns about violence. Even so, a stall selling fresh vegetables was open for business amid the fist fighting, explosions from firecrackers and smoke wafting through the air.

At least 100 people from both camps eventually moved out of the park and into one of the city's main intersections, where they continued to fist fight, hurl insults and chant at each other.

Irish Independent

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