Identity of Speakers
Invited for non-academic lecture
Milo Yiannopoulos is a right-wing commentator.
Recognized student group event
Organized outside group action
University administration protective of speech
Other Law Enforcement
- Incident Protested
- Did not involve Speech Codes
|In February 2017, the Berkeley College Student Republicans invited right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at University of California Berkeley on the topic of cultural appropriation. Yiannopoulos’ scheduled speech was thwarted, however, by protestors on campus.
The protests began in a peaceful manner, and initially consisted mostly of Berkeley students who were opposed to Yiannopoulos’ viewpoints and considered his message to be hate speech. Things took a turn, however, when crowds of non-students, including members of an Oakland anarchist group called the “Black Bloc,” joined the protest. These masked protestors threw rocks and launched fireworks at police, pepper sprayed members of the Berkeley College Republicans, ignited fires, and smashed windows, ultimately causing an estimated $100k in damage to University property. At least six individuals were injured in the protest.
Out of a concern for public safety, UC Berkeley administrators cancelled Yiannopoulos’ appearance two hours before he was scheduled to take the stage. In the protest’s aftermath, the University released a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display” and expressing ‘regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives.”
Yiannopoulos’ later uploaded a video to Facebook in which he described the protester’s actions as “an expression of political violence.” He went on to state: “I’m just stunned that hundreds of people … were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny, and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs.”
President Trump also tweeted that UC Berkeley may lose federal funding if it “does not allow speech and practice violence on innocent people with a different point of view.”