As the Berkeley Police Department gears up for yet another showdown between First Amendment supporters and violent “anti-fascists,” questions have arisen regarding the mayor’s ties to a local anti-fascist group. Ann Coulter vowed to move ahead with a planned speaking engagement at the university on Thursday after her speech was canceled due to security concerns.
Law enforcement sources told Fox News there is a “99 percent” chance that the college will erupt in violence over the appearance — whether she shows up or not.
Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired commander from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who met with Berkeley police on Monday, said that authorities are preparing for the worst because extremist groups from across the spectrum are heading to Berkeley, and because the past three protests that devolved into violence were met by a “lackluster” response from local police.
“We’ve been told they’re going to come no matter whether Ann Coulter comes or not, and the next riot is not a standalone in isolation but a natural consequence of the lackluster approach of the past,” Heal said, adding that because protesters felt police didn’t protect them at the last riot many are pledging to defend themselves. “People are becoming vigilantes.”
According to Fox News, Heal and others are saying “there is deep discord between the Berkeley Police Department and the city government.” Mayor Jesse Arreguin, 32, has been accused of being in cahoots with the protesters because, as this reporter noted at PJ Media’s Hot Mic on Friday, he was a member of the Facebook group “By Any Means Necessary,” or BAMN, the violent anarchist group that has instigated riots in Berkeley and across the country.
Arreguin stopped following the group after it was discovered that he was a member.
Yvette Felarca, a BAMN national organizer, was unapologetic last February after her ninja-clad BAMN troops, along with other violent protesters, successfully shut down the First Amendment rights of former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Armed with bricks, smoke bombs, fireworks, and pepper spray, the left-wing agitators injured at least four Milo/Trump supporters and did an estimated $100,000 worth of damage to the campus.
In the wake of that horror show Felarca told a local reporter, “We need more mass protests, more militant protests that are mass and militant.”
In a statement to Fox News, Arreguin distanced himself from Felarca and BAMN.
“On social media, following a particular account does not mean you support that group or individual,” he said. “I was following this particular group so I could stay up to date on what they are up to. I condemn their violent actions in the strongest terms.”
Interestingly enough, Arreguin doesn’t follow any Republican groups on Facebook “to see what they are up to.” He only follows fellow travelers on the left — which, until very recently, included the anarcho-terrorists BAMN, the very group the Berkeley police seem powerless to stop.
Fox News reports that “a source close to Berkeley city government” is accusing Arreguin of “secretly aligning himself” with certain left-wing groups.
“Mayor Arreguin is not representing all of Berkeley right now,” the source who wished to remain anonymous told Fox News, “he’s coming from a deep leftist position. We have some very radical elements on the police review commission. Jesse is emboldening them because he has a majority on the commission.”
The mayor was criticized for basically handcuffing police officers who patrolled the April 15th tax day riot that resulted in 11 injuries, including a stabbing. Critics said he restricted police officers so much they could not do their job.
“If the police went in more aggressively, more people could’ve gotten hurt,” Arreguin was quoted as saying. “We have to balance how we respond with the goal of trying to keep as many [people] safe as possible.”
That is precisely the same approach police took during the anti-Milo riot in February. It attracted heavy criticism because police stood down while innocent people were injured. Only one person was arrested.
Arreguin told Fox that “all protesters who commit violence will be arrested in Berkeley – no matter what side they are on the political spectrum,” but equivocated, saying that “unfortunately, extremists from both sides have come to Berkeley in recent weeks to engage in provocation.”
But Heal would like to see a more proactive approach on Thursday, rather than a reactive one.
“There’s a disconnect from a realistic approach on how to deal with violent protests,” he said. “…The politicians need to understand they are representing the majority of the community, and their personal agendas may not meet the overall community.”
A city official told Fox News that she is receiving emails from concerned citizens fearing that police officers are not doing enough to protect them.
There have been at least three UC Berkeley free speech protests that have devolved into violence since February 1st – leading to 34 arrests, 39 injuries and property damage totaling at least $100,000.
Arreguin and Heal say they support Coulter’s First Amendment rights.
“It’s not going to make any difference if she cancels at this point,” Heal said. “The extremists are going to come here. It’s terrifying.”
“I fundamentally disagree with everything someone like Ann Coulter stands for,” said Arreguin. “But in an open society, she has a right to speak and students and community members have a right to peacefully protest her.”
That is a far cry from his position just prior to the Milo Yiannopoulos event.
Using speech to silence marginalized communities and promote bigotry is unacceptable. Hate speech isn't welcome in our community.
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) February 2, 2017
He’s either learned a lot in two and a half months, or he’s gotten better at masking his radicalism.
Here is a good primer on BAMN via Sargon of Akkad: