A protest at UC Berkeley over a scheduled appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos turned fiery and violent Wednesday night, prompting police to cancel the event and hustle the Breitbart News editor off campus.
But even after the event’s cancellation, hundreds of protesters spilled off campus into the city streets, where the violence continued as they confronted drivers, engaged in fights, smashed storefront windows and set fires.
Protesters decried President Trump’s policies as much as they did the visit by Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative who has been making the rounds at college campuses across the country with his “Dangerous Faggot” talks, specializing in remarks meant to insult, offend and disgust liberals who disagree with his ideas.
The trouble began around 6 p.m., two hours before Yiannopoulos was to begin his speech inside the student union building on Sproul Plaza. Protesters outside the building began throwing fireworks and pulling down the metal barricades police set up to keep protesters from rushing inside. Windows were smashed and fires were set outside the building as masked protesters stormed it. Police quickly evacuated Yiannopoulos for his own safety.
Berkeley police said five people were injured and some people, including a man who said he had hoped to see Yiannopoulos speak, were seen with their faces bloodied. There were no arrests.
Police said protesters threw bricks and fireworks at police officers. University police locked down all buildings and told people inside them to shelter in place, and later fired pepper balls and paint balls into the crowd of protesters who defied orders to leave the area. Police called in support from nine of the 10 UC campuses and the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County sheriffs department.
Protesters argued that what Yiannopoulos specializes in is hate speech, and that it didn’t deserve to be protected.
“It’s not a question of free speech,” a protester said via megaphone, riling up the hundreds of protesters. “It’s about real human beings.”
In an interview with Fox News after Wednesday’s cancellation, the 32-year-old Yiannopoulos — a self-described “libertarian, gay, Trump-supporting provocateur” — said college campuses are places where “you should be able to engage with different ideas.”
Those who attend his appearances, he said, include people who “don’t necessarily agree with me but just want to hear the other side. They were prevented from doing so this evening by violence from the left — the left that is terrified of anyone who they think might be persuasive or might be interesting or might take people with them.”
But UC Berkeley sophomore Jonathan Gow, 19, rejected Yiannopoulos’ insistence that free speech took a hit.
“The whole reason we’re here is for free speech,” Gow said. “Milo’s hate speech is not allowed here. When it’s hate speech, our free speech is to shut him down.”
A few observations:
1. It was a riot, not a protest.
2. Looking at pictures and videos of the riot show that police presence was non-existant. At the first sign of trouble they retreated and then disappeared.
3. For so-called “anarchists” they were awfully well organized.
4. There is zero chance that Gov. Moonbeam would send in the National Guard.
5. Riots like this one only seem to take place where Democrats are in control.
6. This is what real fascism looks like.