UC Berkeley’s Violent Protest Is A Lesson In Free Speech And Privilege
Patrick Melon

A planned appearance from right-wing Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley caused a violent uproar on campus Wednesday evening. 

What was initially a calm protest of 1,500 went south after “150 masked agitators” barged in and attacked officers.

As reported by CNN, protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police. Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held. At least six people were injured. 

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The Yiannopoulos engagement was canceled soon after and the university issued a statement: “We 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 to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives.”

It continued: “While Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own, we are bound by the Constitution, the law, our values and the campus’s Principles of Community to enable free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective.”

In response to the protest gone wrong, President Donald Trump tweeted at the students, not so subtly threatening federal funds if they can’t protest in peace. 

Despite fires being set by their bookstore, smashed windows at local banks and police officers having rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at them, there were zero arrests. Zero arrests at a violent protest, when the narrative is totally different at Black Lives Matter protests. 

While protest is always the best way to express free speech, we can’t help but reflect on how privilege seems to be in favor of these students at a majority White school.