Violent protest leads university to cancel Yiannopoulos speech

Violent group interrupts peaceful protest

The University of California, Berkeley canceled a scheduled speech by controversial Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos after a violent demonstration broke out on campus Wednesday evening.

Berkeley police described the event as "an apparently organized violent attack and destruction of property." Police say "a group of about 150 masked agitators" descended upon an "otherwise non-violent protest" and began igniting fires; throwing rocks, smoke bombs, and Molotov cocktails; breaking windows; setting off fireworks; and "attacking" members of the crowd. Amid the violence, police evacuated Yiannopoulos and canceled his speech.

Yiannopoulos appearances have led to protests and violence at multiple campuses in recent weeks. Yiannopoulos is a controversial right-wing writer, editor, and speaker "known for his gleeful attacks on political correctness that can sometimes veer into offensive and racially charged language," according to Christopher Mele at the New York Times.

Berkeley anticipated protests against Yiannopoulos, according to multiple sources, and took precautions before the event. On Wednesday afternoon, officials warned the campus community of crowds near the event site. Berkeley police also increased their presence near the building prior to the event.

"Campus officials said they 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 of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives," according to a university statement on the protests (Lederman/Jashick, Inside Higher Ed, 2/2; Mele, New York Times, 2/1; Huckabee, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/2).

Now is the time to talk about student activism on campus

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