On the 1st of February 2017 Milo Yiannopoulos was
set to speak at the University of California Berkeley. Over 1500 people had
gathered around the University to protest. The event had been non-violent,
until about 150 members of antifa joined the protest and started attacking
members of the crowd and damaging property. Soon the speech was cancelled and
protesters were told to disperse. However, the protest continued on in downtown
Berkeley where protesters broke windows of stores and banks. Many people were
injured during this riot and there was an estimated $100,000 in damages1.
The cause of the protest
was Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a British conservative Trump supporter who has
criticized social justice, feminism, political correctness and Islam. The speech was supposed to be a part of his
‘Dangerous Faggot Tour’ where he visits University campuses and gives speeches.
He is a provocateur and says a lot of controversial things, which is why he is
hated so much by the left.
Among the peaceful
protesters there were mostly people on the left. The violent protesters
consisted mostly of antifa members and members of an organisation called By Any
Means Necessary. Both of these groups are on the far left and they are known to
use violence and destroy property during their protests.
What are the consequences?:
There was a lot of media coverage after the first
protest and a lot of film footage captured by protesters or bystanders emerged
on websites like youtube, facebook and twitter. As a result, a lot of people
became aware of what was happening in Berkeley. During the protests that
followed the turnout was a lot bigger and so more footage was taken which even
more people saw which resulted in an even bigger turnout during the next
After the first protest
in February, a lot of protests followed. One of the protests was on April 15,
where a pro-Trump rally was met with counter protesters. This time there were
between 500 and 1000 people at the protest2 and a large number of fights
broke out. In total there were 7 protests at Berkeley in 2017.
All of these protests
have started a discussion on freedom of speech. When conservative speaker’s
events get cancelled, they are being censored and so the response to that from
the far right is to counter the violence of antifa with even more violence. At
this point these protests have just become big boxing matches between antifa
and the alt-right.
Can we link Trump’s presidency to the riots?:
There is no direct link between the riots at
Berkeley and Trump’s presidency, but the riots were the result of a lot of
piled up anger. Now that there is a Republican in the white house, having
conservative speakers feels like an extra blow to a lot of people on the left.