A Bay Area activist who says he did nothing wrong March 4, during dueling rallies in Berkeley for and against President Trump, says police should not have blasted his photograph out to the media Wednesday and identified him as a criminal.
“The simple fact is, I know I’m being hunted for a reason and I don’t know what the hell the reason is when I didn’t do anything,” he told Berkeleyside on Thursday. “I’m sitting here chilling with my family [Wednesday night] and, to see myself on Channel 2 news, that’s not a good look. Every time I call Berkeley police there’s no response.”
The man, who declined to give his name, said he was actually assaulted by a pro-Trump protester named Kyle Chapman on March 4. He said he has photographs and video he can provide to police, as well. He has retained an attorney, Haitham “Sam” Amin, to straighten out the situation with police: “I’m not running from them. I’m actually trying to figure out what’s going on.… I never engaged in any extracurricular activities that they’re saying I did.”
Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel says the man is wanted on suspicion of a robbery March 4, but declined to provide further information Thursday due to the ongoing investigation. He said BPD will reach out to the man through his attorney and invite him to come to the department to share his side of the story.
Wednesday, BPD released photographs of two white men and one black man they said committed assaults or “other criminal acts” March 4, and asked for the public’s help to identify them. That followed an earlier set of six photographs police identified as people they said had been “involved in fights” March 4 and could face criminal charges. Those notices were in addition to 10 people police arrested March 4 in connection with the protests.
San Francisco-based attorney Amin said Thursday afternoon that police must clear his client’s name: “At this point they’re slandering his character.” He continued: “It’s defamatory. It’s a shame.”
Amin said his client was peacefully protesting March 4 in accordance with his First Amendment rights, and that authorities appear to have targeted him because of his race and his political activities. He described his client as a socially and politically conscious African American man who lives in the Bay Area.
“He was, in fact, injured — but he never injured anybody,” Amin said. “And he sure as hell didn’t go out there and try to report anyone.”
Both men said they had tried repeatedly to call the BPD sergeant listed in Wednesday’s statement, but had gotten no response.
The man identified by police told Berkeleyside he plans to attend this weekend’s protest, and is concerned police will target him that day.
“I’m not trying to have 30 police officers grabbing on me for nothing,” he said. “That’s not a good story.”