Violent protests at UC Berkeley forced school administrators to cancel a scheduled event with Breitbart columnist and controversial “alt-right” personality Milo Yiannopoulos.
The protest reportedly began peacefully on Wednesday, with about 1500 protesters assembled in opposition to the speaking engagement, but turned violent when a smaller group of “masked agitators” arrived and dramatically changed the tone of the protests.
Protests against Milo at UC Berkeley. Protesters chanting "This is what community looks like." pic.twitter.com/a0YIZ3epIc
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) February 2, 2017
According to a statement from UC Berkeley Public Affairs, the agitators engaged in a number of acts of violence: “Fires that were deliberately set, one outside the campus Amazon outlet; Molotov cocktails that caused generator-powered spotlights to catch fire; commercial-grade fireworks thrown at police officers; barricades pushed into windows and skirmishes within the crowd.” The agitators also reportedly attacked some members of the earlier crowd, but police intervened and there were no serious injuries reported. The statement continued:
Campus officials said they condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.
Yiannapoulos’s speaking event was cancelled at approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday, and he was immediately removed from campus. The school was briefly placed on lockdown but has since resumed normal operations. As of Thursday morning, there have been no arrests reported.
On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump sent a tweet suggesting that UC Berkeley could lose federal funding as a result of the violent protests.
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
Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, is the former head of Breitbart.