BERKELEY (CBS SF) – University of California, Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks has condemned Wednesday night’s violence on campus that occurred over a scheduled speech by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
Dirks said in a written statement Thursday, “UC Berkeley condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of individuals who invaded the campus, infiltrated a crowd of peaceful students and used violent tactics to close down the event.”
The chancellor said the university took “extraordinary lengths” in planning for the event, including bringing in officers from other UC campuses, but Dirks went on to say that they “could not plan for the unprecedented.”
Authorities said at least 100 vandals who were dressed in black joined the crowd protesting Yiannopoulos outside the event, hurling projectiles and lighting fires around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday night. The speech was cancelled and Yiannopoulos was evacuated from campus.
Several injuries were reported.
“We are proud of our history and legacy as the home of the Free Speech Movement. While we have made clear our belief that the inflaming rhetoric and provocations of Mr. Yiannopoulos were in marked opposition to the basic values of the university, we respected his right to come to campus and speak once he was invited to do so by a legitimate student group,” Dirks said. “The violence last night was an attack on the fundamental values of the university.”
The Berkeley College Republicans, who invited Yiannopoulos also issued a statement which said in part, “The Free Speech Movement is dead. Last night, the Berkeley College Republicans’ constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs seeking to cancel Milo Yiannopoulos’ tour. Their success is a defeat for civilized society and the free exchange of ideas on college campuses across America.”
Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur and self-proclaimed internet troll who supports President Donald Trump, had been on a speaking tour of college campuses. Last month, protests led to the cancellation of an appearance on the University of California, Davis campus. On January 20th, an appearance at the University of Washington was marred by violence in which a man was critically injured in a shooting.
An upcoming appearance at UCLA was also cancelled.