BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who was critical of controversial writer Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance at University of California, Berkeley acknowledged Wednesday that he has received hate mail and death threats.
In a prepared statement, Arreguín – who also criticized the protesters responsible for the violence that forced the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’ speech – said he is alarmed by the volume of hate mail and threats he has received.
Arreguín was targeted by supporters of Yiannopoulos after he tweeted: “Bigotry is unacceptable. Hate speech isn’t welcome in our community” ahead of the event.
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Following the violent protests, Arreguín put out a statement calling Yiannopoulos “a white nationalist.” He later apologized for that characterization and changed his description of the Breibart editor as an “alt-rightist.”
“It was alarming to have received thousands of hateful, racist, abusive, and threatening messages over the past week from across the country,” he said. “I knew by going into public service and taking strong, principled stances that I might be a target. But you don’t know until it happens to you how disturbing it is, and how much you are at risk.”
Arreguín said the Berkeley Police Department was investigating the threats.
“I want to thank the Police Department for their assistance in looking into these threats,” he said. “I also want to thank the community for their pouring of support over the past week. I will not stop standing up for the values of our community.”
Arreguín has been critical of the violence, pointing out that the vast majority of the 1,500 demonstrators were peaceful in their protest.
“Unfortunately, last night, a small minority of the protesters who had assembled in opposition to a speaking engagement featuring a prominent white nationalist engaged in violence and property damage,” the mayor said in a statement the morning after the protest.
“They also provided the ultra-nationalist far right exactly the images they want to use to try to discredit the vast majority of peaceful protesters in Berkeley and across America who are deeply concerned about where our country is headed.”
Yiannopoulous had been scheduled to speak at Cal on Feb. 1st when rioters disrupted a campus protest rally, breaking windows, setting fires and shooting fireworks, forcing police to cancel his speech. Police reported three arrests, several injuries and damage estimated at $100,000.