LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) – A Thousand Oaks woman who was caught on video being clocked in the face during Saturday’s violent Patriot’s Day melee in Berkeley described the ordeal to CBS2 Monday.
“In that moment, I was just terrified,” Louise Rosealma told CBS2 Monday after returning home to Thousand Oaks.
At least 20 people were arrested after violence broke out Saturday around downtown Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park between groups of supporters and detractors of President Donald Trump holding rallies, authorities said.
Police put in a makeshift barrier of plastic orange poles and orange fence mesh to separate both sides, but that quickly came down as demonstrators started punching and kicking each other, while pepper spray and firecrackers were thrown to the crowd.
During the chaos, Rosealma was punched in the face by a man later identified as Nathan Damigo, a Northern California college student and founder of a white supremacist group. He was not arrested during the protests. Berkeley police would not comment Monday on whether Damigo is being investigated.
“From the corner of my eye, I saw this fist coming at me and I didn’t have any time to understand or process what was going on, I just put my arms up to push him away as much as I could,” Rosealma said.
The 20-year-old drove to the Bay Area with friends to march against the alt-right organized event. Rosealma, a member of the anti-fascist movement, says she had only been at the protest for about 20 minutes when a smoke bomb went off. At that point, she says, she and her boyfriend were charged.
“I got right back up, I was punched twice more by two other people,” Rosealma said. “People kept trying to throw me down to hit my head against the rocks that were in the planter,” Rosealma said.
Rosealma claims the attack was unprovoked and that she only reached out her hands to defend herself. She says she knew going to Berkeley was risky.
“We knew that there was probably going to be violence. We were hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.”
Since the attack, Rosealma says she has received death and rape threats. Her image has been turned into GIFs and memes. Though she insists she wasn’t looking for a fight, Rosealma says she is prepared to get hurt in order to stand up for what she believes in.
“I’ve always said, I would rather die on my feet than on my knees,” Rosealma said.
The rally followed March 4 demonstrations at the same park planned by some of the same groups and that ended in violent clashes. Several people were injured and police arrested 10 demonstrators.
In February, protesters threw rocks, broke windows and set fires outside the University of California, Berkeley’s student union building, where then-Breitbart News editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was set to speak. His presentation was cancelled.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)