Police Still Searching for Man Who Punched Conservative Activist in Face at Berkeley

(Updated) Berkeley College Republicans president: 'I wasn't honestly surprised'

Hayden Williams / Fox News YouTube
February 25, 2019

Police are still searching for a man caught on video last week punching conservative activist Hayden Williams in the face on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

Williams is a field organizer for Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that trains conservative activists. He was tabling in the campus's main plaza on Tuesday to help recruit new members for the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, which espouses limited government principles and rails against left-wing forces in academics.

Still sporting a black eye, Williams told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that some people walking by took offense to the table's sign, "Hate Crime Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims," a reference to the Jussie Smollett case. According to him, two men approached him in what he described as an erratic fashion, accusing him of promoting racism and violence, and one of them "took his aggression out on us."

He said he started recording the men out of fear for his safety. At one point, his phone was slapped out of his hand.

"We were talking to a potential new member when this happened," he said. "These two people just approached our table, as I said very erratically, and started cussing at us, and that's when I knew this was probably a troublesome situation ... His friend smacked my phone out of my hand."

A man in a black shirt swore, flipped over his table, and then repeatedly cursed at him, threatening to shoot him at one point and calling him a "c—t," "motherf—er," and "racist, little inbred bitch." A bystander's video showed him tussling with Williams and finally sucker-punching him in the eye, walking away yelling, "f—ing c–t!"

Police do not believe the suspect is a student at the university.

The attack was reported to police Tuesday afternoon, and Berkeley released a statement condemning the assault, saying, "Let there be no mistake, we strongly condemn violence and harassment of any sort, for any reason. That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here."

Turning Point chapter president Milton Zerman was there and said Williams did nothing to deserve the attack, according to ABC News.

"The individual who was the perpetrator says you promote violence," he said. "Which is very ironic given he's the one who assaulted my friend and, again, threatened to shoot him."

"It started off as verbal and it kinda heightened up where he was breaking down posters and taking down a table," said Arda Erbil, who witnessed the attack with his friend Alexander Szarka. Szarka, who filmed the altercation, told Fox News the university's response to the incident was "weak sauce."

It's another literal black eye for the school, which already has a reputation for being a hotbed of leftist intolerance. In August of 2017, black-clad, radical "Antifa" members attacked a peaceful, right-wing demonstration in the town of Berkeley. Protesters also caused $100,000 in damage in February of that year when they set fires and rioted over the invitation to campus of far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Berkeley College Republicans president Matt Ronnau, a junior who knows Williams, told the Washington Free Beacon he hasn't always felt safe when he's tabled in the main plaza to promote the club.

"People have come up and I've been spit at, and other people have been assaulted like Hayden, so it all depends on what you're doing," he said, adding he thought the campus's reputation as intolerant toward conservatives was deserved.

Ronnau, who's been president of BCR since May, said he wasn't surprised at the incident. He also said he didn't expect a resolution any time soon, given what he described as the campus police slow-walking investigations of past incidents against conservatives on campus.

"I was pretty shocked that it had happened, but I wasn't, honestly, surprised, which is kind of disappointing, just given how Berkeley is and incidents that we've experienced in the past," he said. "People here just don't get it. They just don't know how to act when someone expresses a viewpoint that they disagree with."

Former Berkeley College Republicans president Brad Devlin, also a junior, said he had "routinely received verbal threats" and had his "property destroyed" while at the school.

"I do think the Berkeley leftist orthodoxy makes it an incredibly intolerant place, especially since the election of Donald Trump, and we’ve seen that intolerance playing out now for nearly two and a half years on campus," he told the Free Beacon in an email. "I regularly am asked by prospective students that are right leaning whether or not Berkeley is a safe place to get their college degree. I say it’s a challenging place not only academically, but also socially and culturally because of the leftist dogma."

UPDATE: March 1, 4:10 P.M.: This article was corrected to show the August 2017 antifa incident happened in the city of Berkeley, not on the Berkeley campus.