San Rafael police searching for man who assaulted anti-Newsom protester

San Rafael police are looking for a man they say assaulted an anti-Newsom protester on an overpass.

It happened Sunday afternoon on a pedestrian bridge above Highway 101 at Belle Avenue.

At the time, several people were on the bridge waving pro-recall signs and banners as traffic passed underneath.

"I'm feeling really bad for our country, that it's come to that, that somebody would do that," said a recall supporter who declined to give his name, but came to the overcrossing Monday afternoon as he has many times.

"Where else can you reach so many people, it's a captive audience, especially during rush hour," he said.

Witnesses called 9-1-1- about 3:15 to report a man had entered the walkway and started slashing and cutting down recall banners.

When a rally participant confronted him, they argued and got into a shoving match.

"People are civil out here, it's Marin!," said a Newsom protester named Tom, who came running from the opposite end of the ramp when he heard commotion.

He found his friend Chris on the ground, and an ambulance on its way.

"I didn't see it but apparently the guy punched him, knocked him to the ground and then straddled him and started punching him on the face."

Tom considers the assault an anomaly, as there are often people from opposing sides on the walkway together.

"There are people here right now who say no on recall and we get along, but yesterday, that was something else."

Before police and paramedics arrived, the assailant ran off the ramp into the Dominican neighborhood, in the vicinity of Coleman Elementary School.

The assault victim, a 59 year old man from Novato, was treated and released from the hospital.

Friends say he suffered skull and jaw injuries.

Monday evening, he opened his door only to say "no comment."

The incident brought a law enforcement presence, both CHP and San Rafael Police, to the overcrossing the day after, the recall election-eve.

"We're not going to be deterred, we're not going to be frightened, this is an act of defiance against those who would assault us," said Derrick Main, a pro-recall participant.

The suspect is described as 25 to 35 years old, about 5'11" to 6 feet tall, with curly, red or blonde shoulder length hair under a blue baseball cap.

Police are interested in any home surveillance video that might who him- or a vehicle- leaving the area.

"We encourage debate but this went too far and unfortunately someone was injured and we can't have that," said Sgt. Justin Graham of the San Rafael Police Department.

The suspect faces possible charges of assault leading to great bodily injury, and depending on the knife, possibly assault with a deadly weapon.  

"We do know the knife was present, we know it was used to cut down banners, but whether or not it was used in the assault is undetermined att this time."