BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - A conservative activist whose attack at UC Berkeley was caught on cell phone video said he has no doubt that it was his political beliefs that prompted the attack.
Hayden Williams told Fox News' Sean Hannity that Tuesday's beating on campus occurred when he was helping recruit members for Turning Point USA started when the unidentified person ironically accused him of promoting aggression. He said he was punched in the face. Two people were harassing him at first, he said, which is when he picked up his phone to film.
“This person claimed we were promoting violence on campus and proceeded to take his aggression out on us,” Williams told Hannity. He had a black eye during the interview.
Williams said he is field representative for the Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based organization that provides training for conservative activists. He is not a student at Cal, but said he was invited to come to campus.
According to Williams, some UC-Berkeley students took offense to a sign that Turning Point displayed at its recruitment table that read, “Hate Crime Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims.” Williams said the person who struck him claimed that Williams and Turning Point USA were promoting violence on campus.
Turning Point USA is a nonprofit that maintains professors indiscriminate against conservative students and advance left-wing propaganda. The group values free markets and limited government and has views closely aligned with President Trump.
The sign referenced the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging an attack against himself and claiming that white male supporters of President Trump committed the alleged crime. His group also had a sign that read “This is MAGA Country.”
Williams told Hannity he “absolutely” has evidence and eyewitnesses that he did not provoke the alleged attacker. Williams began to record the confrontation but says the attacker knocked his phone from his hand. However, a bystander recorded video of the incident.
A man in a black T-shirt and jeans can be heard shouting profanities at Williams and at one point threatens to shoot him. He is seen throwing several punches.
“I feared for my own safety so I started to record at that moment,” Williams told Hannity.
Campus police said Friday that they had identified the man seen assaulting Williams in the video, and the university has condemned the violent act. "Per pro our commitment to freedom of expression and belief is unwavering," the university said. "At this point, we have no information indicating that the perpetrators are affiliated with the university. If it is determined that students were involved, we will not hesitate to impose serious consequences as per our student conduct process."
Student Fernando Rivera told KTVU that he might not agree with Williams, but that he does support free speech.
Joshua Smith added that "people get whipped up into a frenzy on either side and I really wish we would move to a point where we can sit down and have some dialogue," he said.