A Berkeley, Calif., activist who expressed support for Antifa and was charged last summer with vandalizing people’s property with hateful graffiti has raised more than $85,000 after media reports about his tough living conditions.
Ismael Chamu, 21, a fourth-year student at the University of Callifornia at Berkeley, started a crowdfunding campaign to help him pay for housing, food and school supplies.
“His family has struggled in recent months to make ends meet. He currently helps support his two sisters, younger brother, mom and dad. He has to leave his current housing on the 13th. Money will be used to buy food, secure housing, and school supplies,” the campaign’s page states.
Chamu has raised the money since Monday, thanks to a puffy article in the Los Angeles Times, describing his grand aspirations and problems of barely making ends meet.
“Ismael constantly scrambles to find shelter and enough food for himself and his siblings while working a campus job, leading a student club and trying to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology,” the article read.
But Chamu is a well-known progressive activist in the Berkeley area who does not shy away from violent rhetoric and actions – a fact the Times article initially omitted.
On June 27, 2017, he was arrested and later charged with felony vandalism and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti in an incident involving painting private property with hateful and racist graffiti.
Some of the messages included “F— White People,” “F— the police,” “F— Frat Boys,” “Kill Cops” and “Kill Yuppies,” “Eat the Rich,” “Class War” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Berkeley police Sgt. Peter Hong said Chamu’s Facebook account included posts “consistent with the graffiti messages.” Those messages include “f— the police, rebellion, Black Lives Matter, God Bless Antifa, White Nationalism and supremacy, tech development and its negative impact on Black and Brown bodies,” KTVU reported.
He also reportedly expressed support of Antifa in Berkeley after protests in Berkeley last year, where peaceful free speech activists clashed with the anarchists. He said the police that protected the right-wing activists were “hand in hand with Nazis,” Berkleyside reported.
Chamu denied his involvement in the crime and pleaded not guilty. He said the police racially profiled him because he is Mexican.
“I was kidnapped by armed agents. I was humiliated. I have been traumatized,” Chamu wrote on Facebook last year. “The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a ‘Burglar’ for appearing ‘Dangerous.’ I will never forget this.”
His arrest sparked support from the student leaders at UC Berkeley and radical Berkeley Jesse Arreguin, who called the incident “unacceptable.” Chamu was not convicted for the crime after outpouring opposition to the local police.
The Berkeley activist also reportedly wrote a blog post supporting violent anarchists and burning down private property. “Private property must be destroyed, bars and hipster shops need to be removed, Google satellite offices must be burned and Google buses need to be slashed,” he wrote in a now-deleted article.
He criticized “Liberal Hillary supporters” and “White techies” for “squirm[ing] the moment a barricade smashed into the Amazon student store; they twist and cry the moment someone praises Antifa.”