Author's Talk Spurs Anti-Nazi Protest
and Charles Burress
Chronicle Staff Writers
AT LEAST three people were taken to the hospital last night after a fight broke out in Berkeley during a raucous protest against a British author accused of being a Nazi sympathizer.
As many as 200 people were at the demonstration that began at 8 p.m. outside the YMCA at 2600 Bancroft Way, where writer David Irving was inside giving a speech.
The author of several books on World War II, Irving began provoking controversy in the 1970s because of his revisionist views of the Hitler regime. Among other things, he said that Hitler probably did not learn of Nazi extermination efforts until late in the war and that Hitler had only limited control of underlings.
Last night, protesters were marching with picket signs, including one that read, "Stop Hitler-Loving David Irving." Several shouted "Nazis, out."
October 14, 1994
The injuries came when some of the protesters tried to enter the part of the building where Irving was appearing, said Captain William Cooper of the University of California at Berkeley police.
Apparently a fight broke out. "It was a confined space," he said. "There was a lot of people shoving and pushing."
He said three people apparently suffered minor injuries, principally bloodied faces.
At one point, according to police, rocks and bottles were thrown in the street as the disturbance moved outdoors. But Emily Tanner, a spokeswoman for the Spartacist League, a self-described "revolutionary socialist organization" that helped organize the protest with its UC student arm, the Spartacus Youth Club, said the injuries were caused by police batons.
"I'm not aware of any of my officers participating in that activity," said a UC Berkeley police spokeswoman. Berkeley police said they had no information to release on the protest.
According to a spokesman at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, three people were treated: a 19-year-old UC Berkeley student, hit by a police baton in the ribs, a 72-year-old man from San Carlos who was assaulted with a fist, and a 43-year-old man from Alameda with a cut over his eye.
Irving originally was scheduled to appear at the Alumni House the UC campus, but the speech was moved at the last minute to the YWCA across the street from campus because, according to Tanner, of the large number of demonstators gathered at the Alumni House.
After his appearance, Irving slipped away from the YWCA undetected by about 30 protesters who remained after the disturbance had ended.
One witness said a decoy car left the building first, causing the demonstrators to walk away from a back exit, and then another car apparently picked up Irving.
Tanner said that Irving had inflamed anti-immigrant tension in Britain and that his presence in Berkeley during growing anti-immigrant sentiment in California was a "real provocation."
"We think the militant anti-fascists won a victory tonight in Berkeley," she said. "The Nazis he came to address were stopped cold."
Chronicle staff writer Stephen Schwartz contributed to this report.
© Focal Point 1998 write to David Irving