An event scheduled by the campus Republican club at UC Berkeley featuring Milo Yiannopoulous, the glossy, terrifying poster boy for the far-right was cancelled Wednesday after 1,500 student protesters started fires, broke windows and refused to disperse.
ABC News reports that the decision to cancel the event happened two hours prior to its scheduled start time. Peaceful demonstrators had reportedly gathered hours before the event was set to start, but were later joined by a smaller group whose methods were a little more forceful; they “used metal barricades to break windows, threw smoke bombs and flares and set a large bonfire outside the building.”
Fearing for the safety of the attendees and the protestors, the university pulled the plug on the event and have been trying their damnedest to disperse the protestors, who will not back down. Yiannopoulos’s scheduled appearance at Berkeley was part of his college tour and he’s been met with a similarly chilly reception at other universities as well. Protesters at UC Davis shut down a planned event earlier this month featuring Yiannopolous and known cretin Martin Shkreli, who reportedly got dog poop flung in his face while on campus.
The university stressed that his planned visit to the campus was in no way meant to serve as an endorsement of the hate speech he is so fond of spewing., citing their commitment to free speech. Pieter Sittler, a spokesperson for the Berkeley Campus Republicans clarified that “he gives a voice to repressed conservative thought on American college campuses” and uses “levity and humor” to get his point across. Sittler also suggested that one should not take everything Yiannopoulos says literally, but even if you take that into consideration, that still doesn’t make a whit of what comes out of his mouth okay.
Yiannopolos is a noxious troll with a pretty big book deal who is also responsible for last summer’s online hate campaign that targeted actress Leslie Jones. In a statement on Facebook, he said “One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”
As of 8 P.M. PT, it appears that the protesters have moved off campus and taken to the streets.
The official statement from the university makes it clear that the violence and general chaos demonstrated tonight is not quite what they had in mind:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives.
Yiannopolous was also scheduled to appear at UCLA, but his invitation was rescinded, making Berkeley his last stop. Sad!