BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - Several violent fights broke out at Wednesday night's protest at UC Berkeley.
One of them was so bad, a well-known professional MMA fighter tells KTVU he had to step in to stop it.
Using what looks like flagpoles and sticks, masked rioters were seen attacking people, hitting some already on the ground or even as they ran away.
Some onlookers can be heard egging on the violence, while others watched in horror.
One witness happened to be in the right place at the right time.
"I was in Berkeley getting pizza with my girlfriend. I was cruising around and then I see the protest so I walked up to check it or from a distance. It was obviously a very rowdy group. Probably about 1,500 people. 300-400 with the covered face and the sticks," said Jake Shields, professional MMA fighter.
Jake Shields is a professional mixed martial arts fighter, well known in the Bay Area for his tactical style in the ring. He's won five world titles. Organized fighting is what he likes, not street fighting but he says he had no choice but to intervene at the protest.
"Then all of a sudden I see some guy running, getting chased by a mob of people 15-20 people. They were chasing him down hitting him with sticks. With their faces covered. The guy was already covered in blood. He was already beat up," said Shields.
Shields says no one did anything to stop it.
"So I ran over and started fighting the people off. I got hit a few times, hit a few of them and they kind of started standing down," he said.
Shields says he rushed the victim into a nearby deli and asked the owner to lock the door.
In a video we obtained, Shields is seen confronting the masked men who claimed the victim was hit because he was a nazi.
"After the first fight I knew lots more people were getting attacked, so I ran out to try to get the police and the police...they even recognized me and were like 'yeah we're not really going in there.' I don't know if they were cowards or had an order to stand down but it was a disgrace to see a police force stand down like that," said Shields.
After our interview, I called Berkeley Police to ask them about that situation.
The officer I spoke with wasn't aware of that incident but told me they were trying to control traffic and follow the demonstrators.
They says officers even tried to help put out the fire.
Berkeley police also say their goal was life over property and if an officer witnessed a violent attack, they would intervene.
Berkeley Police say they were asked by university police to assist. Earlier in the night they had 12 officers working overtime to monitor the event.
When things got out of control they called 12 more officers in from street patrol to help but that only amounted to 24 officers, which wasn't enough.