‘Antifa’ unmasked: Berkeley police criticized for tweeting mugshots of activists
Police in Berkeley, California have been criticized for tweeting out mugshots of left-wing antifa activists arrested on Sunday at a protest against a right-wing rally.
The arrests took place as left-wing Antifa protesters clashed with a right-wing ‘No to Marxism’ rally in the city’s Civic Center Park. After being criticized for failing to prevent violence at a similar event last year, police managed to keep both groups separated, and only minor scuffles broke out.
Several vehicles had their tires slashed, trash cans were set on fire, and one Antifa protester smashed the window of a US Marine Corps recruiting office with a hammer.
Police reported arresting some 20 people during the rally, most of them for possession of banned weapons. Police say that “hundreds” of counter-protesters turned up at the rally, “many of whom came armed and hostile.” Anticipating this, the police had declared items that could be used as weapons banned for several blocks near the rally’s location.
We have made 17 arrests, and, if necessary, we will continue to make more. We're also continuing to confiscate weapons. pic.twitter.com/xJVYrdD2ag— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) August 5, 2018
We are confiscating weapons and making arrests. pic.twitter.com/YisxhW4FM0— Berkeley Police (@berkeleypolice) August 5, 2018
After the arrests, Berkeley Police Department tweeted out a list of the booked protesters’ names and mugshots. These tweets have since been deleted.
Berkeley police arrested masked Antifa protesters on Sunday and have released their names and headshots.They're furious that their identities have been made known. Let's make them famous. pic.twitter.com/PInDhzwaD3— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 8, 2018
Berkeley Police Department defended their decision, which appears to be standard procedure. Once someone has been arrested and processed, publishing their mugshot is legal.
“People are coming from out of town and bringing weapons and are committed to violence…We don’t want people to be able to do that with anonymity,” a spokesman told Fox News.
Critics, however, saw the tweets as dangerous naming and shaming of protesters.
“This is very disturbing,” Law professor Veena Dubal of the Universiry of California Hastings told The Guardian. “It seems like a public-shaming exercise, which is not the role of the police department...They are making it really accessible for folks who might wish these people harm to locate them.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said that he would discuss the practice of tweeting mugshots with the police, to see “whether this is an appropriate practice going forward.”
The Twitter #Resistance was likewise sympathetic to the protesters. “It is too late now. The names & photos are out there & people have been doxxed by the Nazis,” read one comment on Twitter.
So Berkeley Police have deleted the mugshots with names & ages of antifascist protesters at #AllOutBayArea. Of course it is too late now. The names & photos are out there & people have been doxxed by the Nazis. Hopefully this won’t happen next time.@JesseArreguin@matthai— tree (@treekisser) August 8, 2018
Huffington Post writer Jesse Benn weighed in, attempting to report Berkeley Police Department for doxxing – releasing a person’s private details online.
hey @TwitterSupport I thought doxing wasn’t allowed or is it just fine when a ghostskin does it from an official police account?— Jesse Benn (@JesseBenn) August 6, 2018
Antifa has used doxxing as a political weapon in the past. Amid widespread protests over President Donald Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policies, Antifa activists published and disseminated a database of some 1,600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees in June. The database featured the officials’ names, pictures, addresses, contact details and information about their children.
Last year, Berkeley was the scene of several violent clashes between activists for the left and right, kicking off in February, when left-wing protesters picketed a speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
Further clashes took place throughout the spring and summer, and Berkeley police were roundly criticized for failing to prevent the violence, particularly at a clash in April where six people were hospitalized.
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