Pelosi condemns Antifa violence in Berkeley after criticism

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., condemned attacks by members of Antifa against conservative demonstrators over the weekend in Berkeley, Calif., calling the violence a "sad event."

"Our democracy has no room for inciting violence or endangering the public, no matter the ideology of those who commit such acts," Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday evening. "The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa [sic] in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted."

Thirteen people were arrested and five others were injured Sunday after more than 100 black-clad, hooded protesters with masks and weapons attacked and overwhelmed the peaceful demonstrators.

"They came with black masks, they carried weapons, they were pounding people down with their fists and feet," University of California-Berkeley College Republican Ashton Whitty told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Monday night. "I knew I had to get out of there."

"Everything was great until Antifa showed up," Whitty added.

"In California, as across all of our great nation, we have deep reverence for the Constitutional right to peaceful dissent and free speech," Pelosi's statement continued. "Non-violence is fundamental to that right. Let us use this sad event to reaffirm that we must never fight hate with hate, and to remember the values of peace, openness and justice that represent the best of America.

Pelosi, who represents a district in neighboring San Francisco, had been criticized for not condemning the Antifa violence as forcefully as she had warned about the potential for unrest at a Patriot Prayer rally that had been planned for Saturday.

The House's top Democrat had repeatedly slammed the National Park Service as "misguided" for allowing the rally, saying she had "grave concerns" about the "public safety hazard" NPS would create by "permitting a white supremacist rally" in the middle of Crissy Field in San Francisco.

The Patriot Prayer rally was canceled and founder Joey Gibson blamed Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for falsely labeling the organization as a hate group and inciting extremists to violent disruption.

"How long are you going to stay silent on Antifa? Because in their silence, it’s almost like they’re using Antifa to their benefit—to attack free speech,” Gibson told Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in an interview, during which he called out Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Gibson's supporters said the Berkeley police failed to protect the handful of right-wing supporters who showed up at the park Sunday afternoon by allowing the black-clad demonstrators to take over the city park without opposition.

Several demonstrators tried to stop the violence and helped the assault victims escape while others screamed for the beating to stop.

Berkeley's mayor, Jesse Arreguin, had previously spoken out against Antifa, saying that the group should be classified "as a gang."

"They come dressed in uniforms," Arreguin said. "They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach."

Fox News' Brooke Singman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.