BERKELEY, Calif. (CBS SF/AP) — President Donald Trump issued a social media threat early Thursday to federal funds allocated to the University of California-Berkeley in the aftermath of a riot that forced the cancellation of a speech by polarizing Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

Protesters armed with bricks and fireworks mounted an assault on the building hosting a speech by Yiannopoulos Wednesday night.

Several injuries have been reported and at least four banks have been vandalized after demonstrators marched away from the scene of a violent protest at the canceled speaking event by controversial far-right writer and speaker Yiannopoulos on the University of California at Berkeley campus.

UC Berkeley officials said the protest was infiltrated by a group of about 100 vandals who were not students at the university.

Yiannopoulos was making the last stop of a tour aimed at defying what he calls an epidemic of political correctness on college campuses.

With masked activists joining the already large group of protesters gathered in the area between Sather Gate and the north end of Telegraph Avenue as night fell, campus police were holding their positions near the entrance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building hosting the event.

As the gathered crowd got more agitated, masked “black bloc” activists began hurling projectiles including bricks, lit fireworks and rocks at the building and police.

Some used police barriers as battering rams to attack the doors of the venue, breaching at least one of the doors and entering the venue on the first floor.

In addition to fireworks being thrown up onto the second-floor balcony, fires were lit outside the venue, including one that engulfed a gas-powered portable floodlight.

The area on Upper Sproul Plaza grew thick with smoke, and later tear gas, as the protest intensified.

At about 6:20 p.m., UC campus police announced that the event had been cancelled. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse, calling it an unlawful assembly.

Police then announced that they would lock down the entire campus, though authorities initially remained stationed near the student union building and did not move to force the protesters to disperse.

But police did fire flash bangs at the crowd.

Police at UC Berkeley student union during Milo Yiannopoulos protest (CBS)

Police at UC Berkeley student union during Milo Yiannopoulos protest (CBS)

Shortly before 6:30 p.m., Yiannopoulos posted on his Facebook page that he was safe.

“I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building,” the post read. “My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled.”

Hundreds of protesters were observed at Wednesday evening’s event. Over 2,100 people responded to a Facebook post that they would be attending.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said earlier Wednesday that the university Police Department called in officers from other UC campuses in the area, including Davis, and could ask for help from Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office if necessary.

He said that they have studied how the protests have escalated at other campuses and planned accordingly.

“The concerted effort was to really take a close look at lessons learned at other events,” Mogulof said.

Several student groups had called for protests and pledged to shut down the evening event. A number of Yiannopoulos’ talks at other campuses have been canceled due to protests or security reasons.

The 32-year-old right-wing provocateur is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll. He was banned from Twitter after leading a harassment campaign against “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones.

His visit to Berkeley was sponsored by the campus Republican club. The university has stressed it did not invite Yiannopoulos and does not endorse his ideas but is committed to free speech and rejected calls to cancel the event.

Earlier Wednesday, the university sent a notice to all students that warned of crowds near the student union, where the 500-seat, sold-out event was scheduled.

“We anticipate there will be major protest/demonstration activity leading up to and surrounding this event,” the letter from school officials said. It did not discourage protests but advised those who didn’t wish to participate to avoid the area.

Pieter Sittler, a spokesman for the Berkeley College Republicans, said the club doesn’t support everything Yiannopoulos says but “he gives a voice to repressed conservative thought on American college campuses.” He uses “levity and humor” that should not be taken literally, Sittler said.

Yiannopoulos’ talks have sparked protests, shouting matches and occasional violence at stops around the country. A man was shot and wounded at a protest outside his Jan. 21 talk at the University of Washington.

Rowdy protests at UC Davis on Jan. 13 prompted campus Republicans to cancel his appearance at the last minute. His last stop was supposed to be UCLA on Thursday but the invitation was rescinded, making Berkeley his grand finale.

By 8 p.m., a large crowd of people had moved off the campus and onto Telegraph Avenue. They smashed ATMs at a Bank of America branch and set several trash fires on Telegraph Avenue.

After marching west on Durant Avenue, the group moved north on Shattuck Avenue, smashing windows and vandalizing a Mechanics Bank branch near the corner of Bancroft Way.

Chase and Wells Fargo branches were also vandalized. A Starbucks location near campus was vandalized and looted.

Police also received reports that banks were set on fire in the area of Center Street and Shattuck Avenue.

At 9:23 p.m., BART officials announced that trains were not stopping at the Downtown Berkeley station due to a civil disturbance in the area.

Shortly after that, UC Berkeley police reported that protesters were heading back toward campus on Center Street.

By 10:15 p.m. the crowd had largely dispersed and BART officials had re-opened the Downtown Berkeley station.

Berkeley police said that three or four injuries were reported as a result of fighting at the protest, and they are investigating reports of a possible hit-and-run crash in which a driver may have struck a person with a vehicle.

A video posted on social media showed at least one protester on top of a moving vehicle.

Early Thursday morning, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín issued a statement.

“Destruction and violence are contrary to progressive values and have no place in our community,” Arreguín said. “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. 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 heading.”

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments (36)
  1. Great idea President Trump. Title IV regulations on federal student aid programs require all schools to have the administrative capacity to provide safe, peaceful campuses. If they can’t or won’t do that, they can have ALL federal funds cut off. PERIOD!

  2. Wow. Do people really need to get violent in order to avoid hearing what this guy has to say? Jeez… can’t they just put their hands over their ears?

  3. Would someone explain to the Dictator-Wanna-Be that he doesn’t decide on federal funds to universities? Oh, and that those funds are pennies compared to their total budgets?

    1. Rick Allen says:

      It’s the liberals that are trying to dictate what people say and should think. Apparently you cant see what is square between your eyes. BTW, the president can 100% pull funding, and he should.

  4. Garry Lukas says:

    What’s wrong with these “students’?
    No free speech?
    Hypocrites at the very least, idiots by far.
    Ah the indiscretions of youth…
    They should probably mandate actually teaching education or something useful.

    1. Jimmy Davies says:


  5. The whole Trump presidency is going be marred by one disaster after another. His entire cabinet is practically a recruitment poster for ISIS. They are as happy for Trump to be president as Vlad is.

    Fortunately for the Donald, he inherits an America that is doing better than ever. Thanks to Obama, we have record unemployment numbers, record stock market highs, low gas prices, legalized gay marriage, low health insurance costs (mine is less than 100/month thanks to Obamacare), low car insurance costs (mine is just 25/month from Insurance Panda), low mortgage rates, high consumer confidence, legalized marijuana (almost), and more personal freedoms than ever before!

    Trump, on the other hand, picks another ignorant right wing fascist with mental health issues for his administration. We are in trouble, America!

  6. Yiannopoulos’ freedom of speech has not been violated. He’s free to speak if he wants to, or if U.C. Berkeley deems it possible and/or safe. At this point he’s free to wander the streets of Berkeley and speak his mind. He may not get very far, but he’s free to do so if he likes.

  7. I don’t like Trump but this is stupid. Like BLM’s violent, destructive protests, it makes me hate the protesters and whatever cause they want to promote.

  8. Toby Power says:

    I see Yiannopoulos is another right wing idiot and a gross opportunist. But, the so called birthplace of the free speech movement should learn that “free speech” doesn’t apply only to people you agree with! The hypocrisy began years ago when the students and faculty signed petitions and letters to keep Bill Maher from speaking on campus because of his views on Islam.

  9. Trump just loves controlling the purse strings and by extension controlling other people. Must be loads of fun living in his shadow. I wonder how he thinks any venue can control the demonstrators/rioters who will inevitably show up if the featured speaker is a notorious hater?

  10. See the question mark at the end. That means it’s not a statement.
    Faux news.

  11. Any reason for a riot. What damaging unrelated businesses has to do with a right wing speaker I will never understand, as there is nothing to understand in violent idiocy. I dislike Trump intensely, but I think violent rioters are worse as they undermine real concerns of sensible opposition to Trump and also cause socially disruptive chaos and property innocent others.

  12. Rick Allen says:

    If the weak, spineless liberals really want to start a civil war, I’m down. Thing is there will be no Politically Correct rules for you to snuggle up next to when your little fantasy world comes crashing down and everything wasn’t as simple as you thought. This will be a real war, to take back true freedom in this country. Not what you think I should think is freedom. Bring it on. The whiny feminists will go first. Get your guns! Oh wait….;)

  13. Kme Moxee says:

    IMO …… it would be awesome to see the gropenfuhrer ripping up a check headed to UC-Berkeley. It might be enough to have felony charges leveled against him.

  14. Student “safety” is priority…good call on canceling the event; need to re-approach event from another angle (e.g. debate). Freedom of speech not violated!