[UPDATE: Thursday] Fire on UC Berkeley Campus as Riot Breaks Out
A protest at UC Berkeley against a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a senior editor at Breitbart News who was banned from Twitter, has exploded with an estimated 1000 protesters starting fires and throwing bricks.
“Getting a report of another fire on the UC Campus,” reports personnel on the Berkeley Police scanner at 6:35 p.m.
Twitter feeds focused on the event exploded with photos and video like this:
— Nahsatan (@rugsisrad) February 2, 2017
UC Berkeley Police tweeted warnings to “stay away” from Sproul Plaza, Bancroft and Telegraph “due to major protest attacks” this evening. They warned of a possible need to shelter in place and urged protesters to disperse.
The planned speech drew ire from left leaning groups for weeks. However, citing free speech rights, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks planned to allow Yiannopoulos to appear on campus. In a written statement released several days ago, Dirks stated,
In our view, Mr. Yiannopoulos is a troll and provocateur who uses odious behavior in part to “entertain,” but also to deflect any serious engagement with ideas. He has been widely and rightly condemned for engaging in hate speech directed at a wide range of groups and individuals, as well as for disparaging and ridiculing individual audience members…
But, he also said they would allow Yiannopoulos to speak,
…we are defending the right to free expression at an historic moment for our nation, when this right is once again of paramount importance.
Due to the violent nature of the protests, however, the speech was cancelled about 7:15 p.m.
UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: UC Police tweeted 7 minutes ago, “Due to violent demonstration, additional resources are being brought in. Cal students should leave the area immediately.”
UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: UC Berkeley Police tweet that campus buildings are still on lockdown but that the “protest [is] moving into South Berkeley. Cal students in the area please shelter in place for your safety.”
UPDATE 9 p.m.: UC Berkeley News seem to imply that the violence was caused by outside agitators. They state,
Amid an apparently organized violent attack and destruction of property at the Martin Luther King Student Union, the University of California Police Department determined that it was necessary to evacuate Milo Yiannopoulos from the campus and to cancel tonight’s scheduled 8 p.m. performance. The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest…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 home of the Free Speech Movement.
(For the complete statement, click here.)
UPDATE 6:58 a.m.: President Donald Trump tweeted, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”