BERKELEY―A planned appearance on Wednesday, February 1, by Milo Yiannopoulos, the editor for the conservative website Breitbart, was canceled when ongoing protests on UC Berkeley’s campus turned violent.
The protesters walked Berkeley’s streets after police broke up the crowd that had gathered at the campus. Participants of the protests broke into several banks and businesses including a Chase bank and a Wells Fargo.
Yiannopoulos, 32, is the senior editor for the conservative news and opinion website, Breitbart. He is considered a spokesperson for what has been deemed the “alt-right” movement. The Greek-born British journalist has built a reputation for himself regarding his extreme views on Islam, social justice, and political correctness.
The UC Berkeley event was sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans and Yiannopoulos’ speech was scheduled for 8 p.m.
Protests erupted on the campus around 4 p.m., as the crowd became more agitated, prompting extra police officers to monitor the event.
Just before 5 p.m. protests took a violent turn, with demonstrators lit fires and fireworks on the campus.
Yiannopoulos, who already spoken at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on January 30. That event was monitored by Cal State police. Cal Poly’s event was sponsored by the Cal Poly chapter of the College Republicans.
Barricades on the Cal campus were put up for the crowd as a precaution, but were torn down by protesters.
“We’re doing this because we feel like we want to exercise our free speech,” said Jose Diaz, President of the Berkeley College Republicans. “We want to bring someone here on campus to help speak on issues that sort of opens the dialogue.”
“Chancellor Dirks in his statement said the Constitution does not allow him to restrict free speech, and that’s not true,” said protest organizer Mukund Rathi. “Universities restrict free speech all the time for educational and security reasons.”
A similar event held for Yiannopoulos at UC Davis was also canceled.
Last month, Yiannopoulos’ planned appearance at UC Davis was canceled at the last minute due to security concerns.
Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook after Wednesday’s event was canceled that he had been “evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protesters tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows.”
It was reported via Twitter that officers were shooting the protesters with rubber bullets. The UC Berkeley Police Department announced to protesters that they had a 10-minute order to disperse or face being arrested.