An event hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans featuring alt-right provocateur and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos is over before it started, canceled amid a protest of more than 1,000 students and others. The planned demonstrations against Yiannopoulos began before his talk, scheduled for 6 p.m., with Sproul Plaza crowded with protesters chanting “No Milo, no Trump, no fascist USA," according to student newspaper the Daily Californian.
Later, fireworks and trash fires were set, and Berkeley Police declared the situation a "violent demonstration," giving the first of many orders for the crowd to disperse.
Divergent images and moods at the protest show police deploying rubber bullets and tear gas, and, alternately, protesters dancing and celebrating as news that Milo would not speak reached the crowd. The Daily Cal writes that a shelter in place order was given at 6:20 p.m. and a student union, where windows had been broken, was shut down.
Crowd now gathered in intersection of Telegraph and Bancroft. Music is playing, dancing, some fires. Police inside. pic.twitter.com/4GUQzWh0bw— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) February 2, 2017
Protesters wanted the event shut down, and they got what they wanted — as, perhaps, did Yiannopoulos, who is already capitalizing on scenes that convey chaos on the liberal-leaning campus. In a post to his Facebook page — he has been banned from Twitter for inciting harassment — Yiannopoulos frames the protest as a violent attack on free speech and claims that he was "evacuated."
Since it was scheduled, students had asked that the event be cancelled, but last week Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks insisted that the event would go on. In mid-January, Yiannopoulos' event at UC Davis was also canceled during protests. That event was also to feature Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceuticals price-hiker who has carved out a similar niche of internet infamy for himself. At Davis, Shkreli was pelted with what appeared to be feces during protests. No reports of that this evening.
Update: Of course, the Donald has weighed in with a threat to UC Berkeley.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017