Twin protests held either in support or defiance of President Donald Trump in Berkeley, California, turned violent on Saturday, when pro- and anti-Trump marchers began roughhousing and beating each other with what appeared to be flag poles.
Police spokesperson Byron White told The Daily Beast that the unrest—the result of a "pro-free speech rally" of Trump supporters colliding with anti-fascist protesters who organized in response to the first rally—has resulted in at least 13 arrests and several injuries. The small force of 176 officers has been apparently overmatched by the protesters, and have called in county law enforcement to restore order.
"The demonstration in the City of Berkeley today occurring in Civic Center park has resulted in 13 arrests so far," White said, adding that nine injuries have been reported. White stated that a full list of the charges filed against those individuals will be forthcoming "after the situation subsides."
“There continues to be a number of large fights, some property damage, and numerous projectiles being thrown, including fireworks,” the Berkeley Police Department said in a statement. “There have also been numerous reports of pepper spray being used in the crowd.”
The protests occurred at the same time as a series of nationwide Tax March actions taking place on the day most federal income tax returns are due to be filed—although, due to the weekend, tax returns are actually not due until Tuesday, April 18. Those protests, numbering more than 180 in 48 states, are being held in response to Trump's precedent-shattering refusal to release his tax information.
"We march to demand that the president release his returns, as he has repeatedly promised, but failed, to do," declares the Tax March website. "We march because it is in the best interest of the American people to know what financial entanglements and conflicts of interest our leaders have."
The action's mascot, a large, anthropomorphic rooster, is meant to suggest that the president is too "chicken" to release his taxes. (The mascot, nicknamed "Chicken Don," sports a Trump-style golden pompadour.)
The president, a real-estate tycoon who has publicly estimated his personal fortune at more than $10 billion, has pointed to his election as proof that the American people "don't care at all" about his taxes, or what information might be made public by their release.
Previously, Trump had vowed to release his tax information after the completion of a "routine audit" by the Internal Revenue Service. The length of time since that initial promise — roughly one year and ten months since the announcement of his presidential campaign — would seem to undercut the "routine" nature of any government audit, although no proof that Trump is under audit has ever been furnished.
Last month, Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston obtained the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income-tax return. Those forms showed Trump and his wife Melania paying $5.3 million in regular federal income tax—a rate of less than 4 percent—on an income of more than $150 million.
The couple payed an additional $31 million under the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. Trump has previously called for the elimination of this tax.