By Frank Somerville
Updated 12:36 pm, Monday, August 28, 2017
Photo: Josh Edelson, Associated Press
KTVU news anchor Frank Somerville was at the rally in Berkeley Sunday, where he said anti-fascist protesters tried to prevent him from taking pictures.
I experienced hate firsthand today.
It came from these people dressed in all black at a protest in Berkeley. Ironically they were all chanting about no hate.
Some had shields and gloves. Some had helmets. Some had gas masks.
I was watching them and taking it all in. I came there on my own time. Because I wanted to see things first hand. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top.
At one point I took out my phone to take a picture.
And that's when it all happened.
(And just to be clear they were playing for the cameras in front but I was toward the back. And since there were already so many people taking their picture I didn't think it would be an issue.)
I wasn't scared. But I stayed calm even though I thought this may not end well for me.I took two pictures and afterward they started screaming at me. I thought for sure they were going to attack. I was just waiting for it.
Here's how the conversation went.
And as you're reading this keep in mind that they were yelling at me and their words were filled with venom, anger, hate and intolerance. There's just no other way to describe it. I was stunned.
(At that point I'd already taken these shots)Them: Hey! No pictures or we'll take your phone!
Me (In calm voice): You're on public property and I can take a picture if I want to.
Them: Oh, so you're a big man with a camera?
Me: No I just wanted to take a picture and talk with you.
Them (rushing toward me): We outnumber you and we will take your camera!
Me: You're not going to take my camera and you're not going to tell me what to do. Why can't we just have a respectful conversation?
(I then touched one of them on her hand to say it's okay I just want to talk.)
Them: Don't touch me!
Me: I'm not trying to do anything. I just want to try to understand and have a respectful conversation.
Them: We'll block your shot!
Them: Now is not the time.
Me: That's fine. All I wanted to do was have a conversation.
(In fairness, he was the one person who was respectful.)
Then as I started to walk away a woman started screaming at me saying: We're not interested in talking to you! We're not interested in talking to you!
I walked away stunned. I grew up in Berkeley. I marched in anti-war protests during the sixties. It's one thing to read about hate. It's another thing to be right next to it. In my opinion, these people dressed in black are just as hateful and intolerant as the people they are protesting against.
Afterward I was talking to several other protesters (not dressed in black). One of them actually stood up for me as the people dressed in black were threatening me. I was touched. They were just as disappointed as I was. They said that the people dressed in black represent a small minority and that they "hijack" the protests.
And I agree.
Most of the people out there in Berkeley were non-violent. They were there for the cause. They just wanted to come out and stand up against hate. I totally support them.
But I do not support extremists, whether they are on the right or the left.
Hate is hate.
And I experienced it firsthand today.
It was sad to see.