California 'anti-fascist' activist charged with assault

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2017 7:28 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former San Francisco Bay Area community college philosophy teacher and "anti-fascist" activist was charged Friday with hitting several people in the head with a bicycle lock during a violent clash between supporters and detractors of President Donald Trump last month.

Berkeley police officers arrested Eric Clanton, 28, Wednesday at his Oakland, California, home.

Police seized "flags, patches, pamphlets" and labels associated with "anti-fascist and anarchist political groups," according to the complaint filed by prosecutors charging Clanton with four felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor charge of wearing a mask while committing a crime.

Clanton has tattoo on the inside of his left bicep associated with the anti-fascist "Iron Front" movement, police said.

One of the victims required five staples for a head injury, police said.

Police arrested 20 people during the chaotic April 15 protests in downtown Berkeley.

Videos of a masked man wearing a dark hoodie hitting a pro-Trump protester in the head circulated widely on social media and led to Clanton's arrest, Berkeley Police Lt. Dan Montgomery said.

"People in the community were upset by what they saw, and we received tips about the incident," Montgomery said.

Investigators seized a so-called U-lock from Clanton's apartment, court records said.

Clanton's attorney, Dan Siegel, did not return a telephone message left Friday seeking comment.

Clanton was jailed for lack of $200,000 bail, according online jail records.

The clashes occurred after Trump supporters held a "Patriot Day" rally that featured inflammatory "alt-right" speeches.

Dozens of black-clad, masked counter-demonstrators clashed with the president's supporters, prompting police to spray the crowd with tear gas.

Clanton taught philosophy part-time at Diablo Valley College in San Francisco's eastern suburbs for three semesters ending in the fall of 2016.

He was not employed at the college during the time of the rally, college spokeswoman Chrisanne Knox said.

Employee records for 2015 and 2016 show Clanton was a lecturer with the California State University system and taught philosophy with the Contra Costa Community College District, according to Transparent California, a database of public employees.

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Associated Press writer Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this report.