Covering the aftermath of protests at Berkeley that cancelled an appearance by Breitbart editor and provocative jerk Milo Yiannopoulos, Bay City News reports that $100,000 of damage was done to the campus alone, with more than a dozen downtown businesses vandalized as well. They count one arrest by university police and no arrests during the night of the protests themselves by Berkeley police, but two arrests the following morning, of two attackers targeting Berkeley College Republican organizers of the event who were being interviewed. The university tells Bay City News that those two people had no campus affiliation.
In a statement, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called attention to way that the relatively few who had caused damage to campus and downtown were interpreted as representing the many who remained peaceful. "Unfortunately, last night, a small minority of the protesters who had assembled in opposition to a speaking engagement featuring a prominent white nationalist engaged in violence and property damage," Arreguin said. “They also provided the ultra-nationalist far right exactly the images they want to use to try to discredit the vast majority of peaceful protesters in Berkeley and across America who are deeply concerned about where our country is headed."
Local news blog Berkeleyside aimed to counter that perception with an article emphasizing the peaceful demonstrators whose voices may have been subsumed by louder, brasher ones. These include "elderly protesters with signs taped to their walkers, drummers, puppeteers, and people in sparkly outfits."
Trump, responding to the more visible scenes of turmoil on campus — fireworks, trash fires, etc. — threatened first to cut Berkeley's federal funds.
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
Although Trump may have completely forgotten about that tweet by now, having moved on to his next potshot, KRON 4 took the threat seriously, wondering what would happen if Trump did cut Berkeley's funding. The Chronicle instead took a moment to dismiss the idea as implausible.
In a second tweet, issued today, Trump repeated his frequent claim that his protesters and detractors are paid. Where they get their funding, he didn't say.
Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2017
Malini Ramaiyer, a student reporter at Cal, worried the violence "undermined" the protest in a piece for the New York Times. "Protests are a staple at Berkeley," she writes, "and I’ve always appreciated the activism here. Wednesday night, I saw many creative posters urging people to fight Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism. One group of protesters wore red ribbons emblazoned 'Resist,' while another led a 'resistance dance party' near the venue."
But witnessing senseless aggression, like a man in black who hit a Syrian Muslim with pepper spray and a rod, Ramaiyer was deeply troubled. "Violence often has unintended consequences," she concludes. "For one thing, those who initiated the violence implicated many others in it too. Black students, Latino students, gay students and others who are already vulnerable — and were protesting peacefully — became even more vulnerable to the backlash."
During the chaos of a large protest, especially one under cover of night, everything can bleed together, from peaceful protesters to violent black bloc anarchists.Take, for example, a young woman wearing a red hat in the style of those from the Trump camp that say "Make America Great Again." She was attacked with pepper spray while on camera. But look closer, and you'll see that her hat appropriates, perhaps to mock, Trump's slogan. It says "Make Bitcoin Great Again," a reference to the cryptocurrency.