UC Berkeley Cancels Right Wing Provocateur���s Talk Amid Violent Protest

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.

Milo speaks: ‘The Left is absolutely terrified of free speech’

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.

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Image 1 of 39 Buy photo A portable light unit burns after demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A portable light unit burns after demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 2 of 39 Image 3 of 39 Buy photo Demonstrators force the cancellation of talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Demonstrators force the cancellation of talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 4 of 39 Buy photo A portable light unit burns after demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A portable light unit burns after demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 5 of 39 Buy photo A protester dances near a burning portable light unit after a demonstration forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A protester dances near a burning portable light unit after a demonstration forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 6 of 39 Buy photo A protester walks near a burning portable light unit after a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was was cancelled after a demonstration in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A protester walks near a burning portable light unit after a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was was cancelled after a demonstration in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 7 of 39 Buy photo A member of the Black Bloc holds a section of security fencing as demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. less A member of the Black Bloc holds a section of security fencing as demonstrations forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, ... more Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 8 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 9 of 39 Buy photo UC Berkeley students watch a portable light unit burn after a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled after demonstration in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. UC Berkeley students watch a portable light unit burn after a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled after demonstration in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 10 of 39 Buy photo Damage to UC Berkeley Student Union that forced the cancellation of talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Damage to UC Berkeley Student Union that forced the cancellation of talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 11 of 39 People protesting controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos take to the streets on February 1, 2017 in Berkeley, California. A scheduled speech by Yiannopoulos was cancelled after protesters and police engaged in violent skirmishes. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images) less People protesting controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos take to the streets on February 1, 2017 in Berkeley, California. A scheduled speech by Yiannopoulos was cancelled after protesters and police ... more Photo: Elijah Nouvelage, Getty Images Image 12 of 39 Buy photo Protester speaks to police posted on the balcony of MLK Student Union on Berkeley campus on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protester speaks to police posted on the balcony of MLK Student Union on Berkeley campus on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 13 of 39 Buy photo Protesters on Berkeley campus on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protesters on Berkeley campus on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 14 of 39 Buy photo A leafless tree provides a canopy to protesters, some starting a fire of trash cans in the middle of Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Later, other protesters put the fire out to cheers. less A leafless tree provides a canopy to protesters, some starting a fire of trash cans in the middle of Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Later, other protesters put the fire out to ... more Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 15 of 39 Buy photo Protesters march on on Telegraph Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protesters march on on Telegraph Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 16 of 39 Buy photo Protesters on Telegraph Ave. and Durant on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protesters on Telegraph Ave. and Durant on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 17 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc prepare to throw security barriers through the windows of the UC Berkeley Student Union forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. less Members of the Black Bloc prepare to throw security barriers through the windows of the UC Berkeley Student Union forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, ... more Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 18 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 19 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc prepare to throw security barriers through the windows of the UC Berkeley Student Union forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. less Members of the Black Bloc prepare to throw security barriers through the windows of the UC Berkeley Student Union forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, ... more Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 20 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc tear down security fencing forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Members of the Black Bloc tear down security fencing forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 21 of 39 Buy photo Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Members of the Black Bloc demonstrate forcing the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 22 of 39 Buy photo Berkeley Police stand inside the Student Union as demonstrators force the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Berkeley Police stand inside the Student Union as demonstrators force the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 23 of 39 Buy photo A portable light unit burns after protesters forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A portable light unit burns after protesters forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 24 of 39 Buy photo Protesters demonstrate before right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Protesters demonstrate before right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 25 of 39 Buy photo A portable light unit burns after protesters forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. A portable light unit burns after protesters forced the cancellation of a talk by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 26 of 39

Protesters showed up at the UC Berkeley campus to object to a speaking engagement by Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Protesters showed up at the UC Berkeley campus to object to a speaking engagement by Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Photo: Nanette Asimov / San Francisco Chronicle Image 27 of 39

Protesters showed up at the UC Berkeley campus to object to a speaking engagement by Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Protesters showed up at the UC Berkeley campus to object to a speaking engagement by Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Photo: Nanette Asimov / San Francisco Chronicle Image 28 of 39 People march in front of Sproul Hall to protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. The University of California at Berkeley is bracing for major protests Wednesday against Milo Yiannopoulos, a polarizing Breitbart News editor, on the last stop of a tour aimed at defying what he calls an epidemic of political correctness on college campuses. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) less People march in front of Sproul Hall to protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. The University of California at Berkeley is bracing for ... more Photo: Ben Margot, STF Image 29 of 39

Aerial shots show the extent of the crowds and a fire that broke out at Sproul Plaza on Wednesday night, as people protested a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos. The event was later canceled as protesters broke through protective barriers.

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Aerial shots show the extent of the crowds and a fire that broke out at Sproul Plaza on Wednesday night, as people protested a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos. The event was later canceled as protesters broke through

... more Photo: KTVU Screenshot Image 30 of 39 People protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. The University of California at Berkeley is bracing for major protests Wednesday against Milo Yiannopoulos, a polarizing Breitbart News editor, on the last stop of a tour aimed at defying what he calls an epidemic of political correctness on college campuses. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) less People protest the appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. The University of California at Berkeley is bracing for major protests Wednesday against ... more Photo: Ben Margot, STF Image 31 of 39 Buy photo In front of Sproul Hall, protesters group on Berkeley campus an on Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. In front of Sproul Hall, protesters group on Berkeley campus an on Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 32 of 39 Buy photo A protesters dumps a trash can in the middle of Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. A protesters dumps a trash can in the middle of Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 33 of 39 Buy photo "I hate this normalization of Facisim" said this protester on Telegraph Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. "I hate this normalization of Facisim" said this protester on Telegraph Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 34 of 39 Buy photo A protester displays his newly painted flag on Telegraph Ave.,3 Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. A protester displays his newly painted flag on Telegraph Ave.,3 Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 35 of 39 Buy photo Protesters on Berkeley campus, 2Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protesters on Berkeley campus, 2Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 36 of 39 Buy photo A vandal defaces ATM's on Durant Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. A vandal defaces ATM's on Durant Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 37 of 39 Buy photo Protesters dance on Durant Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Protesters dance on Durant Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 38 of 39 Buy photo In front of Sproul Hall, protesters group on Berkeley campus an on Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. In front of Sproul Hall, protesters group on Berkeley campus an on Telegraph Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 39 of 39 UC Berkeley cancels right-wing provocateur’s talk amid violent protest 1 / 39 Back to Gallery

“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley,” Mike Wright of Berkeley College Republicans, the group that invited Yiannopoulos to the campus, said outside the student union building as smoke bombs went off around him.

As he spoke, someone threw a glass bottle of red paint at him. The bottle shattered and splattered paint on his clothing. “It’s sad,” he said.

On Berkeley’s city streets, protesters took their rage against construction sites and businesses, smashing windows at banks and stores. They also confronted motorists, and at one point a driver sped off with a protester on the car hood.

University officials had earlier rejected requests to cancel Yiannopoulos’ appearance. In a letter to the campus community last week, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said, “The U.S. Constitution prohibits UC Berkeley, as a public institution, from banning expression based on its content or viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are hateful or discriminatory.”

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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.”

Yiannopoulos’ appearances at some universities have resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and his supporters. Some private universities have barred him, and Twitter banned him in July for repeatedly breaking harassment and abuse policies.

Berkeley College Republicans said all 500 tickets had been sold for Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance in Pauley Ballroom in the student union building. Yiannopoulos was expected to use the event to kick off a campaign against “sanctuary campuses” that have vowed to protect students in the country illegally as President Trump cracks down on illegal immigration.

Campus police had been hoping to avoid a repeat of the chaos at UC Davis on Jan. 13, when protesters overwhelmed their barricades and shut down Yiannopoulos’ speech.

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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.”

Three lines of zip-tied metal fencing separated the crowd of protesters from campus police officers who had secured the building where Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak. He had arrived earlier, escorted by security, and had been waiting inside the student union building when the protests erupted.

The protest turned violent around 6 p.m. when dozens of masked anarchists, dressed in black and wearing backpacks, emerged from the otherwise peaceful crowd.

As “Milo has got to go” chants broke out, they struck: in small groups, at first — knocking down the fences, cutting through the zip ties. Then they came in droves, as the dozens of university police officers in riot gear quickly retreated to an inner ring of fencing.

Seizing the opportunity, the masked protesters ran toward the student center and breached the inner ring, picking up pieces of fencing and hurling them into the building’s windows. Glass shattered, but no one went inside, where Yiannopoulos was waiting for the event to begin.

As some protesters yelled obscenities at police, others toppled a generator and light pole police had set up, spray-painting “Milo” with an X through it. Then they lit it on fire. From their backpacks, the protesters hurled dozens of fireworks.

One of the black-dressed anarchists said he had been hit by nonlethal ammunition.

“The cops shot me with pepper balls,” said the 26-year-old man, who called himself Zombie. “It hurt.”

Carrying a thick black shield and wearing a milk-soaked kerchief over his face to protect against potential tear gas, Zombie said, “We’re anarchists.” Fellow protesters unfurled a banner reading, “This is war.”

Police soon declared an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to leave, but hundreds of protesters stayed, filling the entire upper and lower plaza. “Turn on the dance music,” one masked woman yelled.

UC Berkeley junior Fatima Ibrahim, 20, who clutched a “resist fear” sign with a red fist, said the timing of Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance stung.

“As a black Muslim woman, all three of those identities have been targeted throughout (Trump’s) campaign,” Ibrahim said. “To have someone like (Yiannopoulos) come into my campus and affirm those people’s beliefs, it’s very, very hurtful.”

Hours after the event was canceled, the College Republicans issued a statement declaring the Free Speech Movement dead. “It is tragic that the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement is also its final resting place,” the statement said.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Sarah Ravani contributed to this report.

Michael Bodley and Nanette Asimov are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: mbodley@sfchronicle.com and nasimov@sfchronicle.com


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Source : http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Protesters-storm-Milo-Yiannopoulos-event-at-UC-10901829.php

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