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Police investigate alleged assault at UC Berkeley campus



Police are investigating the alleged assault of a man who was helping recruit members for a conservative organization at UC Berkeley in California on Tuesday afternoon.

Hayden Williams, a member of the conservative Leadership Institute, said he was invited to the campus by Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump student advocacy group, to “help organize and train conservative activists.”

In a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Williams claimed that his recruitment drive took a sharp turn after “some students took offense” to a political sign at the event. The organization’s signs, one of which said “hate crime hoaxes hurt real victims,” reportedly included themes from President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.

Two people took notice of the signs, one of whom claimed Williams was “promoting violence,” according Williams’ account of the incident. Williams claimed one person approached his table and “proceeded to take his aggression out on us.”

Williams said he began recording the incident after six to seven seconds into the encoun.

“As soon as the gentleman, and I use that term lightly, approached our table and began acting very erratic, I feared for my own safety so I started to record at that moment,” Williams said.

“And that’s when I knew that this was probably a troublesome situation,” Williams added. “So I pulled out my phone to start recording, and his friend … smacked my phone out of my hand.”

Video footage of the incident appears to show an altercation between several people, during which Williams is punched in the face.

Another video of the incident shows what appears to be Williams and a man in a black shirt struggling to hold on to a jacket. After a brief struggle, the man alleges Williams made physical contact and taunts: “Put your hands on me again, motherf—er.”

As Williams looked downward at his phone to record the altercation, the man in the black shirt punches him in the face.

Police records show it was investigating an incident reported Tuesday at around 3:29 p.m. involving a “victim of battery.” The identity of the man in the black shirt was not yet known to police as of Thursday night, and it was unclear whether he is a student, according to a UC Berkeley press release on Thursday. It was also unclear if Williams is a student at the campus.

“Let there be no mistake, we strongly condemn violence and harassment of any sort, for any reason,” chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement. “That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here.”

“Our commitment to freedom of expression and belief is unwavering,” Christ added.

In recent years, the city of Berkeley and its prestigious campus — known for its promotion of free speech since the 1960s — were involved in political controversy after cancelling speaking engagements from conservative personalities, including columnist Ann Coulter and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

In August 2018, more than a dozen people were arrested after protests erupted during a right-wing rally in Berkeley. At one point before the protests, police banned baseball bats, ice picks, and flags with poles from several locations within the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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