All Hell Breaks Loose at Campus Event for Alt-Right Leader Milo Yiannopoulos

A long night in Berkeley.


Update, 9:36 a.m.: Hours after the protests on Thursday, President Donald Trump threatened to pull federal funds to the University of California-Berkeley.

A planned talk at the University of California-Berkeley by alt-right lightning rod Milo Yiannopoulos has been canceled after protests erupted on campus.

Yiannopoulos is an editor at Breitbart, a far-right online publication, and is a self-professed “mouthpiece of Trump-Pence.” He is in the middle of a campus speaking tour that has attracted intense ire from student groups around the country. Similar protests broke out last month at the University of California-Davis, shutting down his appearance there, and at the University of Washington, where a protester was shot.

An estimated 1,500 protesters descended on UC-Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza for the demonstration. During the evening, windows were smashed at the student union and a portable light pole generator was torched, sending flames into the night sky and setting a nearby tree on fire.

Shortly after 6 p.m., two hours before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, university police called off the event.

A statement released by the university said campus police determined the event could no longer take place “amid violence, destruction of property and out of concern for public safety.” It went on to defend the university’s decision to host the event in the first place, arguing that “while Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own, we are bound by the Constitution, the law, our values and the campus’s Principles of Community to enable free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective.”

“We came here tonight to help make sure this event did not happen,” said Nick Pardee, 26, protesting with a group from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “We came here to prevent the hate speech that leads to acts like the shooting in the Quebec mosque the other night.”

One man who wanted to be referred to as “Red” said, “You have to confront fascism and not let it advance or give it a platform. You can’t even allow the platform to spew their bullshit.”

“This should be standard practice,” he added.

Angelie Castenada from Fremont, California, however, paid $5 for the event and said protesters were going against something UC-Berkeley has always stood for. “I’m disappointed, because since the 60’s, UC Berkeley was an arbiter of the free speech movement, and even if it’s a conservative opinion, schools should be allowing speech of all kinds.”

There were lighter moments during the protests, too: Drum circles, dancing, and chants of “Immigrants are welcome here” were all in abundance.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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