Berkeley police deliberately allowed masked “Antifa” anarchists to jump a barricade and attack a demonstration by a peaceful right-wing group on Sunday, leading to five assaults, including on Patriot Prayer group leader Joey Gibson.

The counter-demonstration had reportedly been “largely peaceful” until that point.

The police later defended their decision by arguing that keeping the anarchists out would have led to greater violence. There was “no need for a confrontation over a grass patch,” Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The original “No to Marxism” protest had been denied a permit by the city, but a small group of protesters showed up anyway, as did 2,000 “largely peaceful” counter-demonstrators, the Mercury News reported. SFGate.com reported that there were 400 police on hand to prevent violence. But they stepped aside, the Mercury News reported, when over 100 masked anarchists “busted through police lines, avoiding security checks by officers to take away possible weapons.”

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