Protests turn violent at Milo Yiannopoulos speech at UC Berkeley

Alarmed by the announcement of a scheduled campus appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur who has built a lucrative brand on inflammatory speech, a group of UC Berkeley faculty wrote Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in early January to urge him to call it off.

The Yiannopoulos event was canceled after black bloc demonstrators began to throw smoke bombs and flares, the Associated Press and local media reported.

Yiannopoulos also accused the university of not wanting his speech to happen, saying in a video on his Facebook page that police officers had taken a "sit back and let it happen" approach to the protests.

Coverage of the rioting spread across the world last night as students smashed ATMs and bank windows, looted a Starbucks, beat Trump supporters, pepper sprayed innocent individuals, and set fires in the street.

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Yiannopoulos is an editor at Breitbart, the far-right online publication, and is a self-professed "mouthpiece of Trump-Pence".

The Berkeley College Republicans said its "constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs".

UC Berkeley has a long history of protest movements.

The multiple-promotion MMA champion claimed to have helped a "guy being jumped by thugs" at the protest. He had been invited to speak there by the Berkeley College Republicans. Changing speech codes to kowtow to violent disrupters could send the message that violence is a suitable response to disagreement, and that censorship is valid.

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In a CNN interview, Milo Yiannopoulos described the events as "an expression of political violence".

"The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest", U.C. Berkeley said in 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."

Some broke windows and lit fireworks, while others pulled away the metal barricades in front of the building.

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An estimated 1,500 protesters descended on UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza for the demonstration.

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