Protests Force UC Berkley To Cancel Milo Yiannopoulos

Democratic Rep. Val Demings (Fla.) said on Thursday that the violent riots that took place at the University of California, Berkley the prior night were a "beautiful sight". Most have been peaceful but a few have been marred by small groups of violent protesters, including self-declared anarchists dressed in black.

He is however a vocal supporter of Trump-nicknaming the billionaire "Daddy" during his election campaign.

Friday's briefing comes two days after a speech Yiannopoulos was set to deliver at the University of California, Berkeley was canceled after violent protests broke out before the event.

"Although we object strenuously to Yiannopoulos's views - he advocates white supremacy, transphobia and misogeny - it is rather his harmful conduct to which we call attention in asking for the cancellation of this event", read one of the letters. Twitter banned him in July.

Berkeley was the last stop on Yiannopoulus' college tour, which had sparked protests and sporadic violence around the country.

However, preventing him from speaking to those who wish to hear him is a greater violation of the liberal principle of free speech.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais  AP
President Donald Trump waded into the debate on Twitter yesterday
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP President Donald Trump waded into the debate on Twitter yesterday

"They were unable to assist the citizens and the public that were out there that were defenseless against these rioters, who were actively engaging in breaking the law and attacking defenseless citizens", said John Bakhit, an attorney who represents the Federated University Police Officers Association.

Rowdy protests at UC Davis Jan. 13 prompted campus Republicans to cancel his appearance at the last minute.

He said the 38,000-student campus, home to the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, respected Yiannopoulos' right to speak. "This was a decision of the university", Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said in an interview.

Although the president has no direct say in whether UC Berkeley students and researchers get funding, his office makes budget requests to Congress for such agencies as the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, the nation's main source of nonmedical research grants. A similar invitation to speak at UCLA was rescinded. Those people were not Berkeley students. 'To see a sitting president directly threaten an academic institution over issues of free speech is extraordinary and terrifying, ' says Seth Cohen, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin also found himself in hot water after referring to Yiannopoulos as a "white nationalist", which he later rescinded.

They cited as one example an incident in December at the University of Milwaukee where Yiannopoulos openly mocked a transgender student, displaying her name and photo on screen.

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  • Megan Austin