As more news of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, comes to light, information is also surfacing about the presence of “black bloc” anti-protesters who were geared up and ready for violence, says an article on Buzzfeed.
Black bloc protesters have been on the rise since President Trump took office. One of their first notable appearances this year was at the Berkeley riots, according to Rolling Stone. Occupy Oakland sent out a tweet following the violent protest saying, “We won this night. We will control the streets. We will liberate the land. We will fight fascists. We will dismantle the state. This is war.”
We won this night. We will control the streets. We will liberate the land. We will fight fascists. We will dismantle the state. This is war. pic.twitter.com/JnlJMUtgCj
— Occupy Oakland (@OccupyOakland) February 2, 2017
The black bloc protesters are an intimidating sight. Dressed entirely in black, with masks, wielding clubs, shields, and Molotov cocktails, their presence is becoming a sure sign that violence will soon occur. When they arrived at night to join the protests against controversial right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos appearing at the University of California-Berkeley, the once-peaceful demonstration became chaos.
These radicals smashed windows, fought police, and set fire to the area. Their worst violence was leveled against Trump supporters. One woman was pepper sprayed in the face during an interview with a local news station and a particularly disturbing video showed a Trump supporter lying face down on the street being struck by a shovel.
One member of the black bloc at the Berkeley riots, Neil Lawrence, said this type of violence is becoming the only answer for leftist radicals upset with the shift to right-minded politics, according to Newsweek, “It became clear to me and my close friends that the tone of living in America is changing, and in order to stop being scared, we started organizing. I, a transgender Jew, don’t have a problem with violence against fascists.”
Most disturbing about all of this is that the rioting was a result of members of the Left refusing to acknowledge free speech because it doesn’t agree with their beliefs, as evidenced by the phone call Dan Mogulof, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the university, received before the protests. He related, “I had a faculty member of the campus call me and say, ‘You must ban him.’ I said, ‘We’re not allowed to do that, he is protected by the First Amendment.’ They say, ‘No, he’s not.’ So I say, ‘Why do you believe that?’ and they said, ‘Because he’s wrong.’”
One of the professors at Berkeley, Jack Citrin, said the rioters were mistaken to claim themselves liberal while denying free speech. He said it raises a major issue. “I think the defense of free speech is a very real issue now,” Citrin said. “And that battle takes place in many forms and includes demands for so-called ‘safe spaces,’– which I view as absurd. There’s a whole range of issues that have arisen that has made the firm commitment to free speech in academia less secure.”
The destruction dealt by these domestic terrorists during the Berkeley riots amounted to over $500,000 in damages. Their successful tactics, and the fact that few of them were ever arrested, no doubt gives inspiration to similar protesting that will more than likely occur across the country. The black bloc rioters no more represent liberals than white supremacists represent conservatives. And their actions should not define those who were protesting peacefully at both Berkeley and Charlottesville. But it is concerning that there exist individuals on both sides of the political spectrum who resort to violence to voice their opposition, but only one side is being condemned.
As reported by The Guardian, President Trump blamed the violence on “many sides,” and the rioting at Berkeley proves that there do exist radical terrorists on the Left. It needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, just as we hold neo-Nazis and other perceived right-sided radicals accountable for their crimes. Violence, no matter whose opinion it’s fighting for, isn’t acceptable.