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Berkeley Police Defend Approach After Pro-Trump Rally Turns Violent

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Police in Berkeley are defending their actions after a pro-President Donald Trump rally turned violent and officers appeared to take a hands-off approach.

The protest Saturday afternoon quickly devolved from peaceful to pugilistic. Protesters brawled in the streets and Berkeley police officers appeared to do little to intervene.

In a report written to Berkeley's City Manager, Interim Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said that was a strategic decision.

"Intervention risks escalating an event into a full riot…" Greenwood wrote. "Instead of unnecessarily exacerbating the problem, we arrested individuals when conditions best favored the safety of all involved."

The chief attached pictures to the report showing officers arresting several protesters. Another picture showed an array of weapons officers confiscated from protesters, including helmets, a baseball bat, pepper spray, an axe handle and a board with nails protruding.

One man was detained at the protest, wearing ballistic body armor under his shirt.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has applauded the police work during the riot.

"This crowd was intent on committing violence. I think our police did a really good job under difficult circumstances," Arreguin said.

Police are still investigating the riots, reviewing videos for evidence.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office sent KPIX 5 a statement, saying they have not yet brought charges against the rioters. Prosecutors are waiting to get that evidence from police.

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