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VIOLENT LEFTISTS AT UC BERKELEY CAUSE CANCELLATION OF MILO YIANNOPOULOS SPEAKING EVENT
02-01-2017 5:31 pm - Michael Bodley and Nanette Asimov - San Francisco Chronicle
A protest at UC Berkeley turned fiery and violent Wednesday night, shutting down a scheduled speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

The Breitbart News editor was set to deliver a speech inside a UC Berkeley campus building but hundreds of protesters began throwing fireworks and pulling down the metal barricades police set up to keep people from rushing into the building. Windows were smashed and fires were set outside the building as masked protesters stormed it.

The Berkeley Police Department said people threw bricks, smoking objects, and fireworks at police officers. University police locked down all buildings and ordered a shelter in place, and later fired rubber pellets into the crowd of protesters who defied orders to leave the area.

“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley,” said Mike Wright, a Berkeley College Republican member said as smoke bombs went off around him. Someone threw red paint on him. “It’s sad.”

Protesters argued that hate speech isn’t free speech, countering the university’s explanation — free speech — on why it had allowed the event to proceed even as students demanded that the university cancel it.

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. Photo: KTVU Screenshot

Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at the campus by the Berkeley College Republicans, a student group that was warned Tuesday by university officials that the event could result in the targeting of undocumented students. Yiannopoulos, an editor for the right-wing Breitbart News website, was expected to use the event in Berkeley to kick off a campaign against “sanctuary campuses” that have vowed to protect undocumented students as President Trump cracks down on illegal immigration.

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 at 7 p.m. He had arrived earlier, escorted by security, and police said he had left the building after the protests erupted.

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

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

That, too, was breached, as protesters ran toward the student center, where Yiannopoulos was, waiting for the event to begin. Police, donning riot gear, headed all the way inside.

Seizing the opportunity, the masks men and women then breached the inner ring of fencing, picking up pieces of it and hurling them into the glass of the building itself.

Glass shattered, but no one went inside, where police formed a riot formation.
As protesters yelled obscenities at police, others toppled a generator and light pole police had set up, spray painting “Milo” with an x through it. Later on, they lit it on fire, gas spilling with abandon as the growing flames licked a nearby tree on the side of the building.

From their backpacks, they hurled dozens of fireworks — some screaming past others in the crowd — as Berkeley’s usually peaceful protesters vented their frustration. The more peaceful had carried signs, “We reject a fascist America,” and derided Yiannopoulos as a mouthpiece for President Trump.

One of the black-dressed anarchists said he was shot at.

“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, Zombie said he is one of “hundreds” of black bloc activists who were behind the breach of metal barriers.

“We’re anarchists,” he said as fellow protesters unfurled a banner reading “This is war,”

Zombie said no one set the police lights on fire. “It got knocked over — and lit itself on fire. I saw it.”

None of the many black bloc activists — all wearing kerchiefs soaked in milk to protect against potential tear gas — would admit to taking part in the rushing of the student union building.

Police soon declared an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to leave but hundreds of protesters stayed, filling the entire upper and lower plaza. After a couple warnings delivered via loudspeaker from the second floor of the building, where the police were high enough to escape most fireworks, they fired rubber pellets onto the crowd. A group of determined protesters formed a shield-like formation under their signs.

The quintessential protest song, “F— Donald Trump,” came on over loudspeakers that someone dragged through the crowd unscathed.

“Turn on the dance music,” one masked woman yelled.

At around 6:30 p.m., Yiannopoulos posted a message on Facebook, saying he was safe; “I have 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 and breached the ground floor of the building. My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled. I’ll let you know more when the facts become clear. One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”

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

“It’s not a question of free speech,” a protester said via megaphone, riling up the hundreds of protesters in attendance. “It’s about real human beings.”

The “real human beings” refrain rippled through the liberal crowd, through students and their parents, socialists and anarchists, who asserted that Trump’s early policies, ones Yiannopoulos supports, have or will harm their friends and their families. That includes the ban on travel into the U.S. from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, as well as the president’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Berkeley junior Fatima Ibrahim, 20, who clutched a “resist fear” sign with a red fist, said she’d talked to the Berkeley College Republicans, the organization that brought Yiannopoulos to campus, Tuesday. She asked them a simple question: “Why?”

Some of them, her classmates, are “level-headed,” people, she said, and she wanted to understand why they’d invite someone whose views so many found so abhorrent.

She didn’t get clear enough answers — she said the group conceded it didn’t agree with all of Yiannopoulos’ viewpoints — and she decided she’d have to protest along with those who felt the same way.

The timing, especially, so fresh into Trump’s early days in office, especially stung, she said.

“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.”

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo: KTVU Screenshot

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