In day of pro-Trump rallies, California march turns violent 1
A demonstrator in support of U.S. President Donald Trump swings a stick towards a group of counter-protesters during a "People 4 Trump" rally in Berkeley, California March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Supporters of Donald Trump clashed with counter-protesters at a rally in the famously left-leaning city of Berkeley, California, on a day of mostly peaceful gatherings in support of the U.S. president across the country.

At a park in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, protesters from both sides struck one another over the head with wooden sticks and Trump supporters fired pepper spray as police in riot gear stood at a distance.

Some in the pro-Trump crowd, holding American flags, faced off against black-clad opponents. An elderly Trump supporter was struck in the head and kicked on the ground.

Organizers of the so-called Spirit of America rallies in at least 28 the country’s 50 states had said they expected smaller turn-outs than the huge crowds of anti-Trump protesters that clogged the streets of Washington and other cities the day after the Republican’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“There are a lot of angry groups protesting and we thought it was important to show our support,” said Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump, who helped organize Saturday’s rally in Washington.

A demonstrator in support of U.S. President Donald Trump sprays pepper spray towards a group of counter-protesters during a “People 4 Trump” rally in Berkeley, California March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A counter-demonstrator in opposition of U.S. President Donald Trump runs after taking a hat from a pro-Trump supporter during a “People 4 Trump” rally in Berkeley, California March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

In many towns and cities, the rallies did not draw more than a few hundred people. At some, supporters of the president were at risk of being outnumbered by small groups of anti-Trump protesters who gathered to shout against the rallies.

In Berkeley, the total crowd of both supporters and detractors numbered 200 to 300 people, police spokesman Byron White said. Three people were injured in the clash, including one who had teeth knocked out, and police made five arrests.

One Trump supporter who took part in the violence came equipped with a baton, a gas mask and a shield emblazoned with the American flag.