When Milo Yiannopoulos, known racist and misogynist was lined up to speak to a sold-out crowd of 500 at UC Berkley, like many of his controversial events- push back, and even protests of his presence were expected. The senior editor for the Alt-Right platform Breitbart was locked out of his talk having been met with 1000 protestors, including a few violent agitators. The University of UC Berkely is often touted as a bastion of free speech, but students questioned the university’s decision to allow the controversial speaker to host the event. Despite this,”UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof also weighed in, calling the violence “deplorable. News of the violence rose all the way to the White House, with even President Trump chiming in on the matter.
As Alexandra Rosenmann for Alternet writes:
MiloYiannopoulos, senior editor for Breitbart News and a blatant racist and misogynist, was shut out of his UC Berkeley talk when over 1,000 protesters showed up, including a few violent agitators.
“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial-grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” said UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet. Dressed in hooded sweatshirts, the rambunctious group broke windows and threw smoke bombs. By this time, police decided to cancel the 500-seat sold-out event.
“I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building,” Yiannopoulos said soon after. “My team and I are safe. But the event has been canceled.”
Yiannopoulos promised to let his followers know more “when the facts become clear.”
“One thing we do know for sure: the left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down,” he added.
There has been speculation that those who instigated violence weren’t those in opposition to Yiannopoulos, but were placed there to discredit other protesters.
The following morning, Donald Trump weighed in on the protests, hinting he may cut federal funding from public colleges infringing on free speech.
How very ironic, coming from a man who put gag orders silencing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, blocking them from speaking to the press- and for suppressing those wanting to expose the realities of climate change. Somehow, for Donald Trump free speech is only a luxury for those that share his bigoted views, and those who subscribe to his administration’s “Alternative facts”. Why is President Trump going to treat these events as something UC Berkeley has done as a public entity instead of something the students and protesters at UC Berkeley acted upon as individuals?
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
However, UC students were not responsible for the violence, and the university doubled down on its support for free speech in a statement issued late Wednesday.
“Campus officials added that they regret that the threats and unlawful actions of a few have interfered with the exercise of First Amendment rights on a campus that is proud of its history and legacy as the home of the Free Speech Movement,” the statement read.
The statement also addressed continued questions about the liberal university’s decision to host the event in the first place.
“In an earlier message to the Berkeley campus community, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks made it clear that while Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to those of the campus, UC Berkeley is bound by the Constitution, the law and the university’s values and Principles of Community, which include the enabling of free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective,” said the public affairs department.
Many students at the protest made it clear that the agitators did not represent their views.
“It’s just absolutely horrific what’s going on,” Pranav Jandhyala, a student at the university, told the Associated Press Wednesday night in an interview from the campus. “It’s horrible, it’s disgusting what’s going on right now. It’s one thing to protest someone’s right to come here and speak, but it’s another thing to create this much destruction and violence and hurt and harm people.”
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof also weighed in, calling the violence “deplorable.”
“What’s really unfortunate tonight is that the violent actions of a very few interfered with the desires of the many to participate in legal and lawful protest,” he said.
“It’s not a proud day for this campus, the home of the free speech movement,” Mogulof added.
Do you think that the violent agitators ruined a perfectly good chance for non-violent protesters to express their disappointment at UC Berkley’s decision to host Yiannopoulos? Or do you think the days of polite protest are over, and some form of violence is needed to convey the message that the views Yiannopoulos hold, along with the people who support him that they will not be tolerated by any means necessary? How do you feel about President Trumps threat to defund the school of the federal funds it receives in the wake of these events? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
(Article by Tasha Sharifa)