BERKELEY, California (Reuters) U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant John Martin was arrested in connection with an altercation involving an estimated 100 anti-fascist protesters.
Aerial footage shows Master Sergeant Martin involved in a violent melee which ended in 53 anti-fascist protesters in the hospitals with 24 of them listed in critical condition.
The injured personnel were brought to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Berkeley Campus.
According to Berkeley authorities, the incident started when Master Sergeant Martin was visiting the Berkeley campus to speak at a rally for wounded warriors. According to several eyewitnesses, as Master Sergeant Martin was exiting the vehicle he was immediately assaulted by an estimated 100 demonstrators who were there to protest the involvement of the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Campus police were unable to quell the violent skirmish due to the amount of demonstrators assaulting the Special Forces Soldier. One campus officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, was shocked by the number of people who were injured by Master Sergeant’s ability to defend himself. The officer was more involved with extracting the numerous injured demonstrators out of the destructive path of Master Sergeant Martin.
“The City of Berkeley Police Department is a small to medium-size department,” he said. “Our police department total is 176. I can tell you most of that 176 responded here today.”
According to the Berkeley campus police report 26 of the 100 estimated demonstrators were arrested. Their charges ranged from battery on a law enforcement officer to inciting a riot to resisting police with violence, according to their arrest reports. One was charged with marijuana possession.
Master Sergeant Martin was part of the 26 arrested and was segregated at the Berkeley Police Department.
The Berkeley Progressive Coalition, which organized the protest, has scheduled a second demonstration beginning at noon Saturday outside the Superior Court of CA, County of Alameda – Berkeley Courthouse. There protesters will call for the release of those jailed Friday.
The Chief of the Berkeley Police Department spoke to reporters and stated Master Sergeant Martin will not be charged with any offenses related to today’s incident. He states, “Master Sergeant Martin was simply defending himself against a group of demonstrators who thought he was an easy target.” As other news agencies pressed and asked the Chief of Police if he would consider, and classify Master Sergeant Martin’s Special Forces training as the use of “deadly force?” The Chief eloquently replied, “We have high hopes that Master Sergeant Martin would consider our proposition of being the lead hand-to-hand instructor for our police department when he retires next year.”
Master Sergeant Martin was observed leaving the police station from a side entrance in an unmarked police car and was taken out the back gate of the police department.
The Department of the Army Special Forces spokesman from the Pentagon, LTC Richard Cabeza, said they were looking into the incident as a teaching point to other Special Forces Soldiers on how to defend themselves in similar situations and he will be consider for a soldiers medal due to being in harms way and potentially saving the lives of several demonstrators from getting killed by his own hands.