Berkeley braces for dueling Trump, anti-Trump rallies

Berkeley is  bracing for what may be dueling events Saturday afternoon. A rally for President Trump is planned at Civic Center Plaza on MLK Way. A counter-protest will also stage a response, and it's likely the two groups could clash.

"March 4 Trump" is a national event, with rallies in more than fifty cities to support the Trump administration. 

Trump opponents aren't sure what to expect from the local gathering.

"If it's a handful of tea party types waving their flags, then that's no big deal," said Ben Lynch of By Any Means Necessary.

"But we're coming out, and hopefully in big numbers, to make it clear if you're a white supremacist  or neo-Nazi, you're not welcome here in Berkeley."

The local Trump rally, also billed as the "Freedom March on Berkeley", has a few hundred people expressing interest on Facebook.

A statement from an organizer promises a peaceful march, and disavows white supremacists, stating in part, "they will be ejected immediately", "they are not welcome to this event," and "this is not a fascist gathering."

The Berkeley Police Department sits across the street from the plaza.

They department says it is making plans to keep the two factions apart and the afternoon peaceful.

Neither group has applied for a permit, so planning is vague. 

"We'll see who comes and how they come, " Berkeley public information officer Matthai Chakko told KTVU, "and we'll be ready. We are preparing for a number of different contingencies."

The worse case scenario: full-on combat like the scene in Sacramento last summer, when white nationalists tried to march at the State Capital, but were met head-on by hundreds of protestors. Several people went to hospitals with stab wounds.

Asked whether Saturday's conflict will get physical, Lynch responded, "It's not up to us. If the fascists are here to attack people, the movement's going to defend itself."

Still, the prospect of two warring camps coming face to face has at least one business  shutting down for the day.

The owner of the Jazz Cafe on Addison Street plans to open late for the evening theater crowd once the protests are gone.    

"Yeah, that's what he's concerned about, the clashes," explained employee Ava Vega.

"If everything doesn't turn out so good, and people get angry and violent, he doesn't want the windows in here to get broken."

The pro-Trump event is scheduled to run from 2-6 pm. 

The counter-protest plans to arrive even earlier, at noon, hoping to head them off.