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UC Berkeley police urge demonstrators to stay home Sunday

BERKELEY — UC Berkeley police are urging would-be demonstrators to stay away from campus Sunday.

On Friday, Amber Cummings, the organizer of the right-wing rally, “No Marxism in America,” hastily canceled the demonstration, which was scheduled to take place Sunday at Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley. Fearing violence from counter-protesters, she asked supporters to stay away.

But UC Berkeley police said Saturday they still anticipated a large number of people to turn out for the counter-protest, called “Bay Area Against Hate,” which was slated to be held at UC Berkeley’s West Crescent lawn on Oxford and Center streets. Officials said police planned to close the West Crescent entrance to campus, even though organizers for the counter demonstration neither sought nor were issued a permit.

“For the security and well-being of our campus community, UCPD is advising our students, staff, faculty and community members to avoid this area if possible, due to the potential for conflict and unlawful activity,” police said in a community-wide alert posted to Nixle.com.

A photo of the proposed rally site showed the area surrounded by white concrete dividers. No barriers had been erected at Civic Center Park as of Saturday evening.

Officials with the city of Berkeley issued an earlier warning to residents on Wednesday, encouraging demonstrators and members of the public to steer clear of downtown, as well.

“The best response for those seeking to safeguard our community is to stay away,” the message read. “Doing so prevents those on the fringe from garnering attention to their causes, which is their primary goal.”

Thousands of people showed up in San Francisco Saturday to protest an event organized by the Portland-based conservative group, Patriot Prayer. Joey Gibson, the group’s founder, had canceled the event Friday, also citing safety concerns.

“We’re not going to have a rally at Crissy Field,” Gibson said during a Facebook Live announcement. “It doesn’t seem safe. A lot of people’s lives are going to be in danger tomorrow.”