Last night, at the University of California, Berkeley, a massive demonstration was held to protest a planned event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos, editor for the alt-right media platform Breitbart. More than 1,500 protestors gathered to voice their opposition to the university’s decision to allow the controversial figure to speak on campus.
Tensions were high throughout the night as demonstrators marched throughout the streets with banners that read “Become Ungovernable” and "No safe space for racists." But the relatively peaceful protest soon turned awry after a group of "masked agitators" clad in black flooded the campus and began throwing rocks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at police officers.
The group of anarchists, known as the “Black Bloc,” turned to aggressive rioting tactics, engaging violently with Trump supporters, throwing metal barricades through the windows of banks, and setting fires. Not only did the violent escalation cause the school to cancel the controversial alt-right speaker's event, it also led to a temporary campus-wide lockdown. Despite the destructive nature of the protest, no arrests were made during the night of unrest.
"The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest,” UC Berkeley said in a statement.
Berkeley College Republicans have argued that the event should have been allowed to proceed in the name of free speech, but protestors clearly felt that the Breitbart editor’s divisive and hateful rhetoric had no place at their university. President Trump wasted no time politicizing the protest, tweeting a bold threat that he would strip federal funding from UC Berkeley, one of the most prestigious university’s in the nation.
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
The rise of Trump has created an uncertain and divisive atmosphere throughout the country, but one group has been emboldened by the newly elected president: white nationalists. This outspokenly isolated alt-right movement was originally spearheaded by ex-Breitbart editor Steven Bannon, who is now potentially the most powerful man in the White House.
Yiannopoulos has followed in Bannon’s slimy footseps, using his views and events to spark civil unrest. This isn’t the first time that the alt-right commentator has had his events shut down by protests. Earlier this month, the Breitbart editor had another event canceled at UC Davis, while an altercation over his presence at the University of Washington on January 21 resulted in a man being shot.