In the crowd of thousands recently filling the streets of Berkeley, many might align themselves against fascism, observed the city’s mayor, Jesse Arreguín. Meaning: They distrust centralized control in the hands of leaders who vilify outsiders and crush opposition.

As for antifa, the Democratic mayor has seen few traces of the black-clad militants he once condemned as a gang. “I don’t see them,” Arreguín said.

The absence of antifa from protests roiling Berkeley — a crucible of left-wing activism — is a sign, Arreguín said, of the scale and possible significance of the protests. They are not driven by left-wing zealots, he said, but by multiracial and multigenerational crowds seeking a reckoning with systemic problems of racism and policing.

“Anti-fascist protesters thought that because of the threat that white supremacists and fascists brought to their communities, particularly after the deadly events in Charlottesville in 2017, that they had to defend themselves,” Arreguín said. “This is very different. This is about something bigger.”