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Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Don't get baited by provocateurs

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, September 13, 2017) - The presence of a speaker on the UC Berkeley campus on Thursday may generate protests and counter protests. As the City of Berkeley and the university work together to manage any events on September 14, there are a number of things you can do to stay safe.

Mass gatherings of any kind attract a broad variety of people and, inevitably, that means an array of different motives and intentions. The overwhelming majority come with a peaceful purpose.

However, in recent protests in Berkeley, we have seen a small portion who come seeking to hurt others or to destroy property. We have seen individuals who come armed and armored use peaceful protesters as a cover for their violent actions.

If you are at a demonstration and you see violence, separate yourself. Keep a distance from violence. If you can do so safely, report it to police.

This is the best way to keep yourself and others safe. It allows police to focus on and apprehend criminals while keeping bystanders safe. People with cameras who surround violent incidents can complicate the safety of other peaceful bystanders and impede police. When individuals commit violence surrounded by a peaceful crowd, police are always concerned about how the violence might spill over onto those who are not committing any crime whatsoever.

Don't get baited by provocateurs. The best way to deny them the attention they seek is to not engage and avoid such events entirely.

Language used to announce a protest may be effective at enticing supporters, luring counter-demonstrators or provoking conflict. Others lure people by promoting spectacle. But, if you don't know the person, groups or source personally, use caution.

It is a challenge for police to ensure the safety of those who are reckless with their safety and that of others. The City of Berkeley, our police department and our partners will continue to develop strategies focusing on safety for all at demonstrations, each of which has its own unique dynamics. We will work to identify, investigate and arrest anyone who commits crimes in our community. That will not end when the event does.

The event on has attracted the interest of other groups on various social media outlets as well as the attention of local media outlets. Our mission is to safeguard our community while facilitating the expression of the first amendment.

Consider whether the approach others advertise is the style and venue for you. Reaching out to organizations or individuals in need is an alternative to conflict. When people at an event act in a way that compromises your values and goals, separate yourself. In an age of social media, there are many ways to assert your values and speak to the causes you support. Stay away from conflict as there are many alternative ways to respond.

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