The University of California, Berkeley was forced on Wednesday to cancel a scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, the editor of the far-right website “Breitbart News,” after what started as a peaceful demonstration and escalated into violence on the University Campus.
“The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest,” UC Berkeley said in a statement. Some people were attacked and police treated six people for injuries, the university said.
NBC reported that fires were set, including one caused by a firebomb that ignited a generator-powered spotlight, and commercial-grade fireworks were thrown at police.
After the violence, the group said in a statement: “The Free Speech Movement is dead. Today, the Berkeley College Republicans’ constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs seeking to cancel Milo Yiannopoulos’ tour.”
On his personal facebook page, Yiannopoulos posted that “violent left-wing protesters” had broken into a building’s ground floor, ripped down barricades and thrown rocks. “My team and I are safe,” Yiannopoulous said.
This is not the first time that controversy, unrest and, occasionally, violence has followed Yiannopoulos’ speaking tour at colleges across the U.S., for which Berkeley was to be the final event. Last month, a man was shot outside a University of Washington hall where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak.
UC Berkeley said the event was called off at around 6 p.m. local time “amid violence, destruction of property and out of concern for public safety,” and estimated 1,500 people were outside the venue.